Congress leader Raj Babbar has sparked a controversy by comparing the decline in the value of the rupee to the age of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mother, PTI reported on Friday.

The rupee has been one of the worst performing Asian currencies this year and has continued to decline against the dollar. It settled a little above the 70-mark on Thursday, when Babbar made the comment at an election rally in the city of Indore in Madhya Pradesh. The state goes to the polls on November 28.

“[Before becoming prime minister] Modi used to say that compared to the dollar, the value of the rupee has fallen to a level where it is almost the same as the age of the then prime minister [Manmohan Singh],” the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief claimed. “Mr Prime Minister, at that time, you had not taken his [Manmohan Singh] name out of respect. Although our tradition does not allow this, we wish to say that now the value of the rupee has fallen to the age of your respected mother.”

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said the comment was repulsive and indicative of the Congress’ frustration. “Congress leaders are stooping very low and making such repulsive comments,” the BJP leader told reporters in Ahmedabad. “In politics, people need to behave responsibly. I condemn Raj Babbar’s remark.”

The saffron party’s national spokesperson Sambit Patra also criticised the Congress leader. “The Congress’ attitude against the prime minister’s mother has been improper from the beginning and such language was used even against the prime minister,” he alleged. “Rahul Gandhi should apologise and he should clarify whether he endorses such controversial statements.”

Congress leader Hanumantha Rao, however, defended his colleague, NDTV reported. “The exchange rate has increased,” he said. “What did they do in so many years? PM Modi should speak about this.”

Earlier in the day, Congress President Rahul Gandhi rebuked senior leader CP Joshi for saying only Brahmins have the right to speak about Hinduism. Joshi is contesting the Rajasthan Assembly elections, scheduled for December 7, from Nathdwara in Rajsamand district.