New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday referred to Jaish-e-Mohammed's head terrorist as "Masood Azhar ji", infuriating patriotic Indians as much as the archrival and ruling party BJP.

Terrorist organisation Jaish had taken the responsibility for the massacre of CRPF jawans in Pulwama, which the IAF avenged by hitting the outfit's training camp in Balakot of Pakistan. 

Rahul Gandhi's foot in the mouth has the potential to turn into a poll plank, with the BJP sharpening its attack on the Congress on the issue of national security. As such, it is embarrassing for the Congress to be reminded that its response to the 26/11 terror attack had left a lot to be desired.

Gandhi was addressing Congress workers at Delhi's Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium on Monday. Referring to the Pulwama terror attack, he targeted the BJP and national security adviser Ajit Doval. 

Gandhi's statement was picked immediately by BJP's official Twitter handle. BJP wrote sarcastically: "desh ke 44 veer jawaanon ki shahaadat ke liye zimmedar aatanki sangathan Jaish-e-Mohammed ke sargana ke llye Rahul Gandhi ke man men itna sammaan! (So much of respect in Rahul Gandhi's mind for the terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed's supremo who is responsible for the martyrdom of 44 brave security personnel of the nation!)"

Referring to the Pulwama terror attack, Gandhi had said that while Jaish-e-Mohammed had taken the responsibility for the Pulwama attack, it was a BJP government that had handed over the terrorist to Pakistan. NSA Ajit Doval was involved in that exercise too, said the Congress chief.

Union minister and senior BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad tweeted about Rahul Gandhi's statement. He wrote on Twitter, "Come on “Rahul Gandhi Ji”! Earlier it were the likes of Digvijay Ji who called “Osama Ji” and “Hafiz Saeed Sahab”. Now you are saying “Masood Azhar Ji”. What is happening to Congress Party?"

Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala issued a clarification on Rahul Gandhi's statement. He wrote on Twitter: "2 questions to BJP & select Bhakt Media,who deliberately seek to twist the ‘Masood’ sarcasm of Rahulji-: 1 Did NSA Doval not escort & release terrorist Masood Azhar in Kandahar? 2 Did Modiji not invite Pak's rogue ISI to investigate Pathankot terror attack?"

Unfortunately for the Congress, awkward statements originally made stick for a long time. No amount of clarification can undo it. If people still remember Digvijaya Singh's Osama ji, they will remember Rahul Gandhi's Masood Azhar ji too — for all times to come.