Modi said this after a massive dogfight broke out between his supporters and opponents, namely the Congress, Samajwadi Party and JD(U), who criticised him of making communal statements over the Gujarat riots of 2002.
The adversaries particularly took on the Gujarat chief minister over the latter's remark during an interview to Reuters that he would have felt sad even if a puppy came under the wheels of his car, even if he wasn't driving. He made the statement when asked whether he regretted the riots.
SP leader Kamal Farooqi immediately accused Modi of comparing the Muslims with a puppy and even rued that the latter did not apologise over the mass killings. BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman hit back at the charge, describing it as despicable.
The Congress and JD(U) also hit out at Modi on his remark that he is a Hindu nationalist while the Shiv Sena, an ally of the BJP in the shrinking NDA, welcomed his words, saying India needed a leader who believed in Hindutva.