Facing flak for linking India’s air strike on terror camps in Pakistan with BJP’s prospects in Lok Sabha polls, party Karnataka chief BS Yeddyurappa Thursday said there was no question of seeking electoral gains and the nation came first to him.

Yeddyurappa’s remarks amid escalating tension between India and Pakistan drew criticism from political leaders in Karnataka and disapproval from his own party colleague and Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh.

He had on Wednesday said India’s pre-emptive strikes on terror camps in Pakistan has created a wave in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and will help the party win over 22 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka.

The Pakistan media and the ruling party there Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf too latched on to Yeddyurappa’s statement to question India whether war was an election option.

“I would like to clarify that my yesterdays statement has been completely misinterpreted. I have highest regard for our armed forces. I salute the bravery of our men in fighting for the country’s safety,” Yeddyurappa said in a series of tweets.

“I stand along with my fellow countrymen and pray for the safe return of (Wing) Commander Abhinandan Varthaman (IAF pilot in Pakistan’s custody). To me, the Nation comes first and then the party,” he said.

In another tweet, he said, “My statement is being reported out of context. I said that ‘situation is favourable for BJP’ which I have been saying for the last couple of months. This is not first time I said BJP in Karnataka will win a minimum of 22 seats under the able leadership of Modiji.”

Speaking to reporters, he said there was no question of using the situation arising out of the IAF strike for electoral gains.

Noting that External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had informed about the developments at an all-party meeting, he said all political parties, including Congress President Rahul Gandhi, have welcomed India’s action.

“Where is the question of using it for politics? Whole country has welcomed it. There is no question of using it for political gains,” he added.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and Congress legislature party leader Siddaramaiah slammed Yeddyurappa for looking at political gains on an issue involving national security and interest.

Singh, a former Army chief, expressed his difference with Yeddyurappa on the issue.

“@BSYBJPji, I beg to differ. We stand as one nation, action taken by our government is to safeguard our nation & ensure safety of our citizens, not to win a few extra seats,” Singh tweeted.

He tagged a video link of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s speech in the parliament stressing on unity among parties at times of national distress.

In a tweet tagging a news report about Yeddyurappa’s statement, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party said “Air Force excursions, war mongering, soldiers in captivity and the lives of so many people in danger all equate to 22 seats in the eyes of representatives on India’s ruling party. Is war an election option? #SayNoToWar.”

Hitting out at Yeddyurappa, Kumaraswamy termed his comments as “shameful.”

“The entire nation is united in supporting the central govt&our armed forces to fight terrorism, while #Bjp leader @BSYBJP is busy calculating how many extra LS seats the terrorattack&Pak war can bring to his party.

“It’s shameful to exploit our jawans’ sacrifice for electoral gains,” Kumaraswamy tweeted.

Questioning BJP’s intention, former Chief Minister and Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah demanded clarification from the prime minister.

“Shocking & disgusting to understand #BJPsPlot4Vote. It is unfortunate that @BJP4India is calculating electoral gains even before the dust has settled,” he said in a tweet.

He also said: “No patriot shall derive such sadistic gains over soldiers’ death, only a anti-nationalist can. What will RSS say about this?” Siddaramaiah asked.

State Congress chief Dinesh Gundu Rao also slammed Yeddyurappa, asking whether going to war an electoral strategy for the BJP.