Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday compared interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi with a dead mouse and chastised the party for its dynastic politics, reported News18. Khattar made the remarks while campaigning in Sonipat. Haryana will go to polls on October 21, and the results will be declared on October 24.

“After the defeat in the Lok Sabha election, Rahul [Gandhi] quit as the party president and said the new Congress chief would not be from the Gandhi family,” said Khattar. “We welcomed his decision. It is good to end dynasty politics. Then, these people started searching [for the new president] across the country. After three months, they made Sonia Gandhi the Congress chief. It was like khoda pahaad, nikli chuhiya, woh bhi mari hui... [We dug up a mountain to find only a mouse, that too a dead one].”

On August 10, the Congress Working Committee named Sonia Gandhi its interim president after Rahul Gandhi refused another request from the party to continue in the post. She will hold the post until the party holds an election to pick a regular president.

The Congress on Sunday said Khattar’s remarks showed the “anti-women character” of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and demanded an apology from the chief minister. “The comment made by the BJP’s Chief Minister is not only cheap and objectionable, it also shows the anti-women character of the BJP,” the party tweeted. “We condemn Chief Minister ML Khattar’s remark and demand an immediate apology from him.”

Rahul Gandhi had quit as Congress president, taking responsibility for the poor performance of the party in the Lok Sabha elections where it won only 52 of 542 parliamentary seats. Gandhi had offered to step down as Congress president on May 25, but the Congress Working Committee had unanimously rejected his resignation then. However, he had remained firm on his decision. Before Rahul Gandhi, his mother Sonia Gandhi had led the Congress party for 19 years.

Both Rahul and Sonia Gandhi had refused to be a part of the process to select the new party president. They had said they had been Congress presidents in the past and did not want to influence opinion in any manner. Former Mumbai Congress chief Milind Deora had suggested Jyotiraditya Scindia and Sachin Pilot for the post, while Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Shashi Tharoor had recommended Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi. Former Union ministers Mukul Wasnik, Mallikarjun Kharge and Sushil Kumar Shinde were among the frontrunners for the president’s post, according to several reports.

This is not the first time Khattar has courted controversy. In August, he had said that people were claiming that Kashmiri women can be brought to Haryana for marriage after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked.

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