A Bharatiya Janata Party leader from Uttar Pradesh on Thursday claimed that Hindu god Hanuman was a Muslim and that names in Islam are “almost similar” to those of the deity, ANI reported.

“Hanuman belonged to the entire world. He was loved by people of every religion, every sect, every community,” said BJP Member of Legislative Council Bukkal Nawab. “I believe that he was a Muslim.”

Nawab, a former member of the Samajwadi Party, said that many names in Islam had been derived from the deity and would not have existed in his absence. “That is why the names of the people in Islam are almost similar to Lord Hanuman, whether it is Rehman, Ramzan, Farman, Zeeshan and Qurban,” he said. “Such types of names are found in Islam only.”

At an election rally in Rajasthan’s Alwar last month, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister had said that Hanuman was a Dalit. “Hanuman was a forest dweller, deprived and a Dalit,” he had said. “Bajrang Bali worked to connect all Indian communities together, from north to south and east to west.” A Brahmin group in the state had sent Adityanath a legal notice and demanded an apology from him for his comment.

Last week, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav criticised Adityanath’s comment and said that the chief minister should reveal the castes of other gods as well. “It will be good if he [Adityanath] tells caste of all of them,” Yadav had said. “I will also pray to the God of my caste.”

Former BJP MP from Bahraich, Savitri Bai Phule, had also criticised Adityanath’s remark – she had said that if Hanuman was a Dalit, then Dalits should be appointed priests in all Hanuman temples across the country. Two days after her criticism, Phule on December 6 resigned from the party.