Bharatiya Janata Party MP Anantkumar Hegde claimed that India’s freedom struggle was staged, and ridiculed Mahatma Gandhi’s hunger strikes and satyagrahas, ANI reported on Monday. The former Union minister from Karnataka made these remarks on Saturday at a public event in Bengaluru.

The former Union minister alleged that the Congress was hand-in-glove with the British in staging the independence movement. “None of these so-called leaders were beaten by the police with batons even once,” claimed Hedge. “Their independence movement was one big drama. It was staged by these leaders with the approval of the British. It was not a genuine fight. It was an ‘adjustment’ freedom struggle.”

The six-time Lok Sabha member from Uttara Kannada said the Congress always overrated Gandhi’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle. “These Congress people keep saying that we got independence because of the fast-unto-death or satyagraha,” he said. “That is not true. The British did not leave India because of satyagraha.”

He claimed the Britishers only “gave independence” out of frustration. “My blood boils when I read history. Such people become Mahatma in our country,” he added. Hedge also claimed that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP’s ideological mentor, had nothing to do with Gandhi’s assassination.

The Karnataka unit of the saffron party, however, distanced itself from Hegde’s comments. State BJP spokesperson G Madhusudhan said the RSS holds Gandhi in high esteem and will never support such “cheap remarks”, reported News18.

Former Karnataka minister and Congress MLA Priyank Kharge called Hegde’s comments offensive, adding that he was trying to be in the limelight. “He is no longer a minister,” Kharge said. “He is out of circulation. He is now trying to impress Prime Minister Modi by talking nonsense.”

Karnataka Congress spokesperson VS Ugrappa said Hedge should be sent to a mental health institution. Another Congress leader, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, said the party was waiting for Modi’s reaction. “Awaiting Narendra Modi who invokes Mahatma Gandhi at the drop of a hat especially when repackaging his ideas & to gain international credibility to comment on Mr Hegde who is a senior BJP Leader,” he said on Twitter.

Hegde is not new to controversies. Last year, Hegde had appeared to praise Gandhi’s killer Nathuram Godse. He had also accused former Indian Administrative Service officer S Sasikanth Senthil, who resigned as deputy commissioner of Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada district after criticising the Centre’ Kashmir move, of treachery. He had once called former Congress President Rahul Gandhi a “moron”.