The Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday suspended its Madhya Pradesh media cell head Anil Saumitra from its primary membership for his remark claiming that Mahatma Gandhi is the “father of Pakistan”. The development came amid BJP President Amit Shah’s claim that the saffron party will ask its Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur to explain her remark calling Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse a patriot.

Shah also pulled up two BJP parliamentarians for posting sympathetic tweets about Godse, ANI reported.

In a Facebook post, Saumitra had said, “Pakistan was born with the blessings of Bapu, therefore Mahatma Gandhi can be the father of Pakistan but not of India.” Hours later, he published another post defending his comment. “No scholar can prove me wrong. I will not delete my post,” Anil Saumitra said.

The saffron party issued a notice to Saumitra asking him to clarify his remark within seven days. “The party has taken serious cognisance of your action,” Modi said. “Your action has tarnished the party’s image.”

Shah said the views expressed by Thakur, Union minister Anantkumar Hegde, and MP Nalinkumar Kateel had nothing to do with the party’s stance on the matter. Hegde and Kateel, both of whom are from Karnataka, have deleted the tweets, reports said. Anantkumar Hegde later claimed that his account had been hacked while Kateel apologised.

The tweets came a day after a controversy erupted over Pragya Singh Thakur’s remark that Godse was a patriot, and “those calling him a terrorist should instead look within”. The BJP condemned Thakur’s statement and asked her to apologise publicly. Thakur initially said she agreed with the party line and late at night she apologised in a tweet. She is an accused in the 2008 Malegaon blasts case.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that he will not be able to forgive Thakur for her remarks.