Union minister Anantkumar Hegde has stirred up yet another controversy by questioning Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s ancestry in response to questions raised by the Opposition party about the Indian Air Force’s airstrikes conducted across the Line of Control.

The Union minister of State for Skill Development referred to Gandhi as a “pardesi” or foreigner at a gathering in Uttara Kannada on Sunday, The News Minute reported.

“Look at the pitiful situation they [Congress] have brought us to,” Hegde claimed. “The whole world is praising our soldiers for their courage and bravery and this man [Rahul Gandhi] wants proof of the damage caused in the attack [the Balakot airstrike]. How did the son of a Muslim become a Brahmin named Gandhi? He was born to a Muslim and a Christian. How does he become a Brahmin? Can he provide DNA proof?”

Hegde’s reference was to a Hindu priest’s reported statement in November that Rahul Gandhi had claimed that his “gotra was Dattatreya” which made him a Kashmiri Brahmin.

This is not the first time Hegde has made such insinuations. In January too, Hegde had called the Congress president a “hybrid specimen” with a Muslim father and a Christian mother.

Rahul Gandhi’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, was the son of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who happened to be a Kashmiri Brahmin, and Feroze Gandhi, a Parsi from Gujarat.

In January, Hegde had said Karnataka Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao was “a guy who ran behind a Muslim lady”.

Hegde is not the only prominent BJP leader to have made such statements in recent months. In November, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath attacked Rahul Gandhi for his “Muslim posture”.

Fact checking website Altnews has documented other instances of such false claims, including one in February that Rajiv and Rahul Gandhi offered Islamic prayers at Indira Gandhi’s funeral.