New Delhi: Escalating its attack against Mani Shankar Aiyar over his controversial remarks in Pakistani media, BJP on Wednesday called it "treason" and demanded an apology from Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.
Union ministers M Venkaiah Naidu and Prakash Javadekar, who also hit out at former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid for criticising the NDA government for adopting a tough stand towards Pakistan, said Congress should take strong action against the two leaders for their "seditious" and "anti-national" remarks.
"The comments made by Aiyar and Khurshid are highly objectionable and anti-national. Going to a foreign country and calling upon the people to overthrow a democratically elected PM is nothing but sedition.
"Congress party should condemn these remarks and take strongest possible action against these two people. They are not ordinary people to be brushed aside. They were ex-ministers and spokesmen of the Congress party. This shows the level of the frustration of the party and its leaders," Naidu told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.
He said the remarks by Congress leaders are "disgusting" for any patriotic and nationalist Indian.
"Aiyar's attempt is clearly aimed at de-stabilizing the democratically elected government led by Shri Modi. To say so on a foreign soil is even worse and amounts to clear act of treason," he said in a statement later.
Javadekar wondered if the opposition party approved of their remarks and demanded Gandhi's apology.
"Does Congress approve of Aiyar's remarks? If the two leaders are not forthcoming, then the Congress president should apologise. Being the chief of the party she should take responsibility and apologise," he told reporters at party headquarters.
"The way Khurshid and Aiyar are singing paeans of Pakistan and denigrating the Prime Minister's office is unacceptable.
"They are playing with the sentiments of the people who are seeing their action as a betrayal of the country. They are free to disagree with us in India but not on foreign soil," he said.
Aiyar sparked a controversy by reportedly saying, during a panel discussion on a Pakistani news channel, that Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to be removed if talks between the two nations have to resume. His comments have evoked sharp reactions.
Khurshid had criticised the NDA government for adopting a tough stand towards Pakistan.
While Khurshid served in various capacities including as External Affairs Minister in UPA government, Aiyar was a Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas and then Panchayati Raj Minister.
Countering Congress' criticism of its handling of Kashmir issue and Pakistan, Naidu asked, "If it is so simple for the Congress, they should explain to the people in the last 50 years why they have not resolved the Kashmir issue through peace dialogue.
"Why they have not successfully stopped Pakistan from supporting these terrorist organisations. Congress must exhibit its sincerity by taking action against these two people."
Hitting out at Aiyar and Khurshid for their controversial comments, BJP had yesterday said that they were trying to gain lost ground "by visiting ISI headquarters" which is an "insult to India and its nationalist Muslims".