Union minister Jayant Sinha, who is in the eye of a storm for garlanding Ramgarh lynching convicts, on Friday challenged Congress president Rahul Gandhi to a live debate on the issue.
Sinha, who took to Twitter to express his regret over the episode, said the Congress leader should join him in the debate in a civilised manner if the latter thought that his "personal conduct was disgusting".
"I invite Sh. @RahulGandhi ji to a live debate," the Minister of State for Civil Aviation tweeted and attached a note with it, terming the Ramgarh incident of June 29, 2017 as "distressing" and "terrible".
"Let him (Gandhi) not hide behind his social media handles and practice shoot-and-scoot politics. Our great Republic deserves no less," he said.
Gandhi had on July 10 supported a petition against Sinha which sought withdrawal of his Harvard alumni status.
"If the sight of a highly educated MP and central minister, Jayant Sinha, garlanding and honouring criminals convicted of lynching an innocent man, fills you with disgust, click on the link and support this petition," Gandhi had said on Twitter, urging people to sign the petition against the Union minister.
In his note today, Sinha said the Congress president had taken the attack against him to a "personal level".
"He has condemned my education, values and humanity. I challenge him to a live debate in Hindi or English on the Ramgarh lynching case," the minister said on Twitter.
Sinha said many in social media, various political parties and media outlets have said that he 'sympathised' with vigilantes because he welcomed the Ramgarh convicts.
"I did not intend, in any way, to condone vigilantism, and I sincerely regret if that is the impression I gave," he said.
Sinha had in Ranchi yesterday apologised over the garlanding row in face of intense criticism from the Opposition.
He said the events in Ramgarh on June 29, 2017 were distressing and terrible and totally unacceptable.
Those who commit vigilantism and break the law should be fully punished, the minister said.
Stating that the case was sub judice and the bail order of the accused was in public domain, Sinha requested those interested in the matter to study these materials carefully and form their independent views.