"I would like to reiterate that I never compared Swami Vivekananda with anyone. I had absolutely no intention to project Swami Vivekananda in bad light. If my words about Swami Vivekananda have hurt the public sentiments in any manner, I express my sincere regrets," he said.
Earlier, Gadkari had said that the intelligence quotient (IQ) level of Swami Vivekananda and Dawood Ibrahim was almost the same.
"As per psychology, if we can compare the IQ level of Swami Vivekananda and that of Dawood Ibrahim, then it cold have been the same. But Vivekananda used it in nation building, brotherhood and spiritualism, while Dawood used that in excelling in crime world," the BJP president had said at an award ceremony while stating that discrimination is unfair and people should be judged based on their qualities.
Gadkari's statement on Vivekananda had drawn sharp criticism from all quarters.
Taking a dig at the BJP president, Congress party leader on Monday, Nov 5 had asked about BJP's reaction if Gadkari's IQ was compared with Ajmal Kasab's, the lone surviving terrorist of the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks.
Congress leader Jagdambika Pal had chided, "...this is the bankruptcy of Gadkari's mind. What is the justification of comparison of Saint Swami Vivekananda to underworld don Dawood Ibrahim? If somebody will ask tomorrow from Gadkari or will compare Gadkari's mind of excellence with Kasab what reply will the BJP give."
Citing criticism, Gadkari on Monday took a U-turn while asserting that he was misquoted.
Clarifying his stand on the controversy, Gadkari said, "I did not make any comparison between Swami Vivekananda and Dawood Ibrahim... I said if one used one's intelligence properly then one could become a Vivekananda and vice versa."
"My personal reverence for Swami Vivekananda is second to none. In that context, I had referred to Swami Vivekananda dedicating his intellect for the welfare of humanity. I am deeply pained to note that my words have been taken out of context to create confusion," he added.