Union minister Nitin Gadkari has praised former Prime minister Indira Gandhi, saying she did not need reservation to prove her mettle and did better than male leaders in the Congress.
The senior BJP leader said he was not opposed to women's reservation, but was against politics based on caste and religion.
He made the remarks at the inauguration of an exhibition by women self-help groups (SHGs) in Nagpur on Sunday.
The BJP has been critical of Indira Gandhi over the imposition of Emergency in the country.
"Indira Gandhi proved her mettle in her party among the dedicated male leaders. Was it due to reservation," Gadkari said.
Women BJP leaders Union minister Sushma Swaraj, former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did well in politics and reservations, he said.
"I am not against women's reservation. Women should get reservation. I am not opposed to it," he said.
The minister said he was against caste and religion-based politics. A person excels on the basis of knowledge and not because of language, caste, religion or region, he said.
"One makes progress on the basis of knowledge. Do we ask about the religion of Saibaba, Gajanan Maharaj or Sant Tukdoji Maharaj? Have we ever asked about the caste of
Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar or Jyotiba Phule? I am against politics based on caste and religion," Gadkari said.