The Bharatiya Janata Party has expelled two leaders from its unit in the city of Nagpur in Maharashtra for six years for allegedly criticising Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, and saying, even before votes had been counted, that he would lose the Lok Sabha elections, the Hindustan Times reported on Thursday. Gadkari defeated Congress’s Nana Patole by more than two lakh votes.

Jaihari Singh Thakur, the vice president of the Nagpur city unit, and Abhay Tidke, an executive committee member, were expelled after their phone conversation went viral on social media. According to The Times of India, Thakur had to be hospitalised as he was shocked by the party’s decision to expel him. He was reported to be in stable condition.

“Both the leaders claimed through the mobile conversation before the results of Lok Sabha elections that Gadkari would not win as he only pampers rich people and neglects genuine party workers,” the saffron party’s Nagpur unit president Sudhakar Kohle said on Wednesday.

Kohle said the party would not tolerate indiscipline and added that he had written a letter to Chandrashekhar Bawankule, the guardian minister for Nagpur district, to remove Thakur as the chairperson of the Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojna for West Nagpur.

Thakur, however, alleged that the audio clip had been tampered with. “I have great respect for Gadkari and other leaders,” he added. “I am a loyal party worker and have never abused leaders of my party. Part of the conversation is my words. I had asked a leading question to Tidke to find out whether Kunbis had voted for Gadkari. That’s all.”