Under fire from various quarters, BJP's Maharashtra unit President Raosaheb Patil-Danve on Thursday expressed regret over his alleged anti-farmer remarks.
In a statement issued here, he said nowhere in his comments on Wednesday at a party activists' meeting in Jalna did he speak against the farmers.
"However, if there is still any ill-feeling among the farmers, then I express regrets over the same," Danve said, as protests against him gained momentum.
His utterances on Wednesday stoked a major agitation almost all over Maharashtra on Thursday, with farmers burning his effigies in different parts, taking out processions, garlanding and whacking his photos with slippers.
The opposition Congress and Nationalist Congress Party jumped in by demanding his immediate sacking from the party post for insulting and using foul language against the farmers.
Congress state President Ashok Chavan and Mumbai unit chief Sanjay Nirupam said with his remarks against farmers, Danve had proved himself to be a "Danav" (demon).
Responding to the alleged use of a slang word against farmers by the BJP leader, Chavan said the Congress would launch an agitation and give the BJP chief the title of "Saala Danve".
Danve has faced flak for his remarks in which he said why the farmers should continue to crib when the Centre had purchased 100,000 tonnes of "tur dal", of which there had been a bumper crop this year.
Hoping to soothe ruffled feathers, he said he was also born in a farmers' family and had built his entire 35-year-long political career by espousing farmers' causes, so he understood their plight well.
Earlier this week, Danve had inflamed passions by asking whether anybody could provide written guarantee that farmland suicides would end if the government wrote off farmers' debts in the state.
The Congress said it would continue its agitation demanding complete waiver of farm loans in Maharashtra as was done by the Uttar Pradesh government.