The Indian affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War on Tuesday expressed concern about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark at a rally in Rajasthan on Sunday, that India’s nuclear weapons are “not meant for Diwali”. The Indian Doctors for Peace and Development demanded that Modi be debarred from contesting the Lok Sabha polls.

On Sunday, Modi had said that his government had refused to be intimidated by Pakistan’s nuclear threats and that with the Balakot air strike, India had given Pakistan a “fitting reply”. “What do we have then? Have we kept our nuclear bomb for Diwali?” On Monday, the Pakistan Foreign Office described the comment as “unfortunate and irresponsible”, and added that such “nuclear brinkmanship” needs to be discouraged.

IDPD, in a statement, described the prime minister’s remark as “dangerous, provocative and irresponsible”. The group said that Modi had made the remark “purposefully to fetch some votes and win applaud from innocent followers and admirers”. “It is unfortunate that this is being done despite the fact that the events following Pulwama terrorist violence which killed 49 Central Reserve Police Force personnel had nearly pushed India and Pakistan to the brink of war,” it added.

The IDPD said that Modi’s remarks are unbecoming of a statesman, because it is well known that the use of nuclear weapons would be catastrophic for the world. The group called on both India and Pakistan to sign the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons, an international agreement passed by the United Nations in 2017.

IDPD Senior Vice President Dr Arun Mitra has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, the group said. “The irresponsible, ‎dangerous and ‎provocative nuclear rhetoric that ‎India does not have nuclear weapons ‎for Diwali by the prime minister at ‎Barmer‎, ‎Rajasthan on April 21 ‎amounts to threatening the neighbour,” it alleged. “‎It can push the whole ‎region into nuclear catastrophe. ‎He ‎should be debarred from contesting ‎elections and addressing any election ‎rally and making such statements.”‎