The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday issued a show-cause notice to parliamentarian and former Union minister Anantkumar Hegde for his controversial comments about Mahatma Gandhi, PTI reported.

The saffron party’s Karnataka President Nalin Kumar Kateel told PTI that the central leadership had objected to Hegde’s remarks and asked him to explain them. At a public event in state capital Bengaluru on Saturday, the MP had ridiculed Gandhi’s hunger strikes and satyagraha, and claimed India’s freedom struggle was a “drama”.

Hegde alleged that the Congress was hand in glove with the British during the independence movement. “None of these so-called leaders were beaten by the police with batons even once,” he said. “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 had always overrated Gandhi’s contribution to India’s freedom struggle. In response, the Congress said Gandhi does not need a certificate from the “cadre of Britishers’ ‘chamchas and spies’”. Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the BJP has no regard for the father of the nation while Maharashtra Congress President Balasaheb Thorat said Hegde’s remarks displayed the “intellectual bankruptcy” of the saffron party.

The BJP, however, distanced itself from Hegde’s comments. Karnataka BJP Spokesperson G Madhusudhan said the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the parent organisation of the saffron party, holds Gandhi in high esteem and would never support such “cheap remarks”.

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