Karnataka Bharatiya Janata Party leader KS Eshwarappa on Monday claimed his party will not give tickets to Muslim candidates in the state as the community does not trust them, reported NDTV.

“Congress uses you only as a vote bank and doesn’t give you tickets,” he said in Kannada at in event in Koppal in Karnataka. “We won’t give Muslims tickets because you don’t believe in us. Believe us and we’ll give you tickets and other things.” The Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly was addressing a gathering of the Kuruba and minority communities, reported Hindustan Times.

Karnataka will vote in two phases, on April 18 and 23, in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Polling across the country will take place in seven phases from April 11 to May 19.

Responding to Eshwarappa’s comment, Asasuddin Owaisi, president of the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen Party and Lok Sabha MP, tweeted: “A con job only works when the victim doesn’t know they’re being conned.”

Eshwarappa, who was the former Karnataka deputy chief minister, has made controversial remarks earlier too. In February 2018, he reportedly said Muslims involved in violence against Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and BJP members are Congress supporters, while “good Muslims are with the BJP”, according to NDTV.

The countdown to the general elections has seen a surge in communally charged rhetoric, especially from BJP leaders. On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi alleged that Congress President Rahul Gandhi was fighting a second Lok Sabha seat from Wayanad in Kerala because he was “scared of contesting from constituencies dominated by the majority population”. Wayanad has a 49% Hindu population.

According to the Model Code of Conduct, which is supposed to guide the behaviour of political parties during elections, no party should “appeal to caste or communal feelings for securing votes”. It also says that “no party or candidate shall include in any activity which may aggravate existing differences or create mutual hatred or cause tension between different castes and communities, religious or linguistic.”