Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday said he did not object to Congress leader Kapil Sibal representing the “Muslim community” in the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi case, but criticised the senior advocate for asking the Supreme Court to defer the hearing till July 2019, when the next general elections will be over.

“How is the case connected to the Lok Sabha elections?” Modi asked at a rally in the city of Dhandhuka in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad district.

The prime minister accused the Congress of being “least bothered about the nation” and linking the Ayodhya dispute with elections.

On Tuesday, Sibal had argued that there are “serious repercussions” outside court every time the Ayodhya matter is heard. The three-judge bench of the Supreme Court denied the request to defer the hearing to 2019 and scheduled the matter for February 8.

Drawing distinctions between himself and Congress leaders, Modi said that when the triple talaq matter was before the Supreme Court, the media had said he would remain silent because the Uttar Pradesh elections were around the corner.

“People told me to not speak on the matter, else there will be losses in the elections,” he said, adding that he had spoken about it anyway. “Everything is not about elections. This was about the rights of women...Elections come later, humanity comes first.”