The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came under heavy fire across Maharashtra on Wednesday after its Mumbai MLA Ram Kadam publicly threatened to “abduct” women and bring them to their spurned suitors for marriage.

The Maharashtra BJP, on the other hand, accused the Opposition of being less concerned about the people’s issues and instead fuelling the controversy over Kadam’s anti-women remarks.

At a Dahi Handi event in his Ghatkopar assembly constituency, the BJP MLA on Monday night bragged to young men that he would “kidnap” a girl they like, if she rejects their proposal. Later, he expressed regret over his remarks.

Kadam, who is heard making the comments in a video clip, has said his comments were distorted.

“I only repeated a sentence made by one of the persons standing in the crowd… It was not my sentence. The clip which has gone viral is only of 40 seconds. However, later I had said mothers, sisters and daughters in all households are ‘Lakshmi’ who need to be respected,” he said late Tuesday.

“I had no intentions to hurt anybody’s sentiments. But if I have done so, I regret it. Certain opponents are behind this misunderstanding,” Kadam said in a Tuesday night tweet.

Playing down what Kadam had said, BJP state spokesperson Madhav Bhandari asserted that the matter was over as the MLA has expressed regret over it.

“After Kadam regretted his comments, the chapter is over for the party now. He has tweeted about it, so there is no need to comment on it,” said Bhandari.

Asked about the Opposition slamming the MLA and targeting the BJP, he said, “The opposition parties are not concerned about the ‘real issues’ of the state. They do not want to take any stand over issues that matter, hence they are continuing their tirade against Kadam.”

Cutting across party lines, political leaders, women’s groups and social activists slammed the BJP demanding an unconditional apology along with Kadam’s resignation from the Assembly and his arrest.

Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an ally of the BJP at the centre and in Maharashtra, however, dared Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to show “courage” and take action against the MLA.

“Not only should strict action be taken against him, he should not be given a ticket by any party to contest future elections. He is a person of a low character and mentality,” Thackeray told the media.

Mocking the Union government’s “beti bachaao – beti padhao” slogan, Mr Thackeray said the Maharashtra BJP has launched a “beti bhagao” campaign.

(With agency inputs)