Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Gopal Krishna Agarwal on Thursday defended his comments comparing an Indian author to dogs.

His comments came hours after writer Shunali Khullar Shroff mocked a religious leader in Gujarat – Krushna Swarup Das – for saying menstruating women who cook for their husbands would be reborn as dogs. Shroff posted a picture of her dogs on Twitter and told Krushna Swarup Das: “Here is a picture of two fallen women who became she-dogs because they cooked for their husbands while on their period in their last life. You can tell they’re sorry from their body language.” In response, Agarwal asked Shroff which of her two pets she identified with.

The BJP leader’s tweet invited widespread condemnation on Twitter. Actor Swara Bhaskar said Agarwal’s comment was tantamount to an abuse. “This is the [Bharatiya Janata Party’s] national spokesperson basically abusing a woman on a public platform!” she wrote. “You should be ashamed of yourself Agrawal ji!”

However, Agarwal claimed he was merely responding to Shroff’s absurd claims. “I don’t like quoting out of context and demeaning Hinduism,” he added. “I am a proud Hindu. ”

In a series of tweets, the BJP leader accused Shroff of insulting Hinduism. “I never called women [by] any name,” Agarwal added. “Don’t manipulate things. Your tweet neither condemned any baba’s statement or quoted it. I respect women.”

Krushna Swarup Das is associated with a temple in Gujarat’s Bhuj town that runs a college where undergraduate students were allegedly forced to remove their undergarments to prove they were not menstruating. The incident reportedly took place on February 13 at the Shree Sahajanand Girls Institute. The college’s principal, hostel rector, and peon have been suspended.