NEW DELHI: Amid the soul-searching within the BJP over its drubbing in the Delhi polls, a senior Union minister today said the controversial remarks made by Hindutva hardliners "damaged" the party's prospects.
In an interview to Karan Thapar in "To the Point" programme on Headlines Today, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu also spoke of the limitation of BJP in a direct electoral contest and said the party needs to expand its base and work out a strategy to win even those elections, which are not three or four-cornered.
He refused to hold party's chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi responsible for the debacle saying there are "other factors" for this "embarrassing" defeat, which is a "big setback" to the party.
The AAP hurricane demolished both BJP and Congress in the Delhi Assembly polls bagging an unprecedented 67 of 70 seats leaving only three for BJP while Congress scored a duck.
"Some of the statements made by our so-called colleagues also damaged us. They drove away entire minorities to that side. That is also a lesson to be learnt," he said referring to remarks of leaders like party MP Sakshi Maharaj and Union minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti.
He admitted that it was a "tactical mistake" to delay the elections in Delhi that cost the BJP dear but insisted that it was a "decision taken collectively".
To a question on whether the controversy over 'ghar wapsi', conversion besides these controversial remarks antagonised some sections of Hindus, Naidu replied in affirmative.
"Definitely. Hindus always believed in peaceful co-existence. They have been living like this for ages. People were not happy with comments made by some of our colleagues. They did not go down well with people.
"... Somebody was talking of Hindu women having four children, the other six children. Somebody talked of putting idols in all places of worship. That was very wrong," he said.
Naidu also recalled that Home Minister Rajnath Singh as well as he himself had disapproved of the remarks made by Jyoti. "It had vitiated the atmosphere. It also hurt us," he said.
Naidu's remarks came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for communal amity on Tuesday.
Breaking his silence on recent church attacks, Modi, who was accused by Opposition and Christian groups of turning a blind eye to a string of recent attacks on five churches and a Christian school in Delhi, said his government will not allow any religious group to incite hatred and will strongly act against any religious violence.