The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday accused the Congress of demeaning Hindus and questioning the secular fabric of the nation after Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad reportedly said the number of Hindu candidates inviting him to campaign in elections has reduced drastically in the last four years.

On Wednesday, Azad criticised the current political climate under the BJP-led government saying it was out of fear that people were not inviting him to campaign. “Since the days of the Youth Congress, I have been campaigning across the country from Andaman to Lakshadweep and 95% of those who used to call me were Hindu brothers and leaders, and just 5% were Muslim brothers,” Azad said at an Aligarh Muslim University alumni event in Lucknow, according to The Indian Express. ““But in the last four years, I have been observed that the figure of 95% has dropped to just 20%. This means that there is something wrong. Today people are afraid to call me…wondering what effect would I have on the voter.”

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said Azad introduced the Hindu-Muslim angle and the so-called fear whereas the only reason he was not being called by many for campaigning is the “falling stock” of the Congress. “These are not ordinary words,” said Patra. “It is an abuse for the country’s secular fabric and Hindus. It is yet another attempt by the Congress to demean and demoralise Hindus.”

Referring to the recent row over Kashmiri students facing action in AMU, Patra said if prayer meetings are held for militants, it should be condemned. Last week, two Kashmiri students were suspended and three were booked for sedition for allegedly raising “anti-India” slogans and trying to hold a prayer meeting for Hizbul Mujahideen commander Mannan Bashir Wani who was killed in an encounter in Kashmir. The varsity later revoked the suspension order.

Patra also targeted Azad for his earlier comment about the Army killing more civilians in Kashmir than terrorists. “It seems he wants to campaign in Pakistan,” said the BJP spokesperson. He accused the Congress of conspiring against Hindus and said that its leaders often use terms like “Hindu Taliban”, “Hindu Pakistan” and “Hindu terrorists”. Demanding a response from Rahul Gandhi, Patra said the Congress will never use such words for any other community.