The president of Bharatiya Janata Party’s Rajasthan unit triggered a controversy on Thursday when he raised doubts about Mughal emperor Akbar’s character, reported Hindustan Times. Madanlal Saini said Rajput warrior Maharana Pratap and not Akbar was the true inheritor of the title ‘great’.

“A person who fights to protect his self-respect, culture and religion is great,” Saini said while paying his tributes to Maharana Pratap on his birth anniversary. “Pratap never grabbed anyone’s land. He fought for the security and respect of the country. He never accepted to be ruled by those who invaded this country and tried to enslave it. So he is great.”

Saini alleged that Akbar used to visit Meena Bazaar disguised as a woman and misbehaved with women. He said several historians have written about Akbar’s large harem and his roving eye. “Akbar’s conduct does not show that he was great,” said Saini. Saini also said that Akbar misbehaved with Bikaner queen Kiran Devi, reported NDTV. He added that the queen had put a sword to the emperor’s neck for misbehaving with her and he had to beg for his life.

Congress spokesperson Archana Sharma accused Saini of distorting historical facts and said Saini’s comments will lead to enmity and animosity in society. “It is the duty of a responsible opposition to maintain communal harmony and equality but the sentiments expressed by him are condemnable,” Sharma told PTI.

Several functions were organised in Rajasthan to observe Maharana Pratap’s 479 birth anniversary. Leaders across party lines, paid tributes.

“My humble tributes to vir shiromani Maharana Pratap on his birth anniversary,” tweeted Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. “He was epitome of courage, bravery and strength. His sacrifice will always be remembered with reverence.”

Education minister Govind Dotasara said Pratap was a symbol of courage, determination and patriotism and he sacrificed his life for the independence of his motherland.

The BJP and Congress have been sparring over history and national heroes. The previous BJP government had removed the suffix “great” from Akbar in textbooks and added it to Pratap’s name. The Congress government in the state has restored Akbar’s title.