The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday attempted to clarify Union minister Nitin Gadkari’s comment that urged leaders to make only those promises that could be fulfilled. BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao claimed that Gadkari was referring to the Congress and its chief Rahul Gandhi, and not his own party, when he made the comment.

“Nitin Gadkari’s comments are now being twisted and political benefit being taken out of it,” ANI quoted Rao as saying. “He was hinting towards the Congress that only gave slogans of ‘Garibi Hatao’ but didn’t do anything for poverty alleviation and towards Rahul Gandhi who makes empty promises.”

Gadkari had on Sunday said that politicians who sold dreams to people but failed to make them a reality were “beaten up” by the public. “People like leaders who make them dream, but if those dreams are not fulfilled, the citizens also beat up leaders,” he had said. “So, you should show only those dreams that you are capable of fulfilling.”

A few Opposition leaders criticised the BJP after Gadkari’s statement, claiming it was a veiled reference to his own party and the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance government just months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

“PMO India, sir Nitin Gadkari is showing you the mirror, and in a very subtle way,” tweeted All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi.

The Madhya Pradesh Congress on Twitter asked if Gadkari’s remarks were a direct attack aimed at the prime minister. “Modi ji, the people are coming,” it said.