Madhya Pradesh Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya was at the centre of a controversy on Friday over his remark that women must not cross the Lakshman rekha to avoid unwanted consequences, prompting an embarrassed BJP to disassociate itself from the comment.

As the remark sparked outrage, BJP asked the Minister to also withdraw his comment. The Congress dubbed the remark “shameful,” as it came against the backdrop of a sombre mood in the country after the Delhi gang-rape incident and a rash of crimes against women. It also demanded immediate dismissal of the minister.

“Only when Sitaji crossed the Lakshman Rekha, she was kidnapped by Ravan... If Sitaji [woman] crosses the Lakshman Rekha, then Sitaharan [abduction] is bound to take place as Ravans are out there,” Mr. Vijayvargiya said, narrating an incident from the epic Ramayana while seeking to explain the reason behind the recent spate of crimes against women.

“When people cross their limits, deterioration is bound to happen. It applies to everyone in the society, men or women,” the State Industries Minister added.

The remark did not go down well with the BJP. “The party [BJP] does not approve of it and disassociates itself from the same and the party has asked the Minister to kindly withdraw it,” BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.

Mr. Vijayvargiya said he apologised for the remark if it had hurt the sentiments of women activists. Clarifying the Lakshman Rekha remark, he said if it was being considered as against women only, then he had no problems in withdrawing it.

“Let me clarify that my statement was not women-centric and it is applicable to all in the society... politicians, media. But if it is being considered only against women then I have no problem in withdrawing it,” Mr. Vijayvargiya told reporters