Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has refused to sack a minister who used an abusive term to refer to non-Hindus.
Niranjan Jyoti had told crowds at a rally in Delhi that they faced a choice between a “government of followers of Rama and a government of bastards”.
Mr Modi told MPs he disapproved of her language, but said she had apologised and called for politicians to move on.
Critics accuse the prime minister and his supporters of exploiting religious divisions to court voters.
Some members of his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made anti-Muslim speeches while campaigning for this year’s general election.
And Mr Modi was accused of failing to stop deadly religious riots in 2002 when he was chief minister of Gujarat – allegations he has consistently denied.
The prime minister has insisted that his government will protect minorities.
Ms Jyoti, who is food processing minister, was using her speech to supporters in Delhi to criticise opposition Congress leader Sonia Gandhi.
She contrasted Congress’ secular politics with the BJP’s reputation as a Hindu nationalist party.
She then rhymes the words Ramzada (Ram’s children) and Haramzada (illegitimate children/bastards).
Opposition parties called for her to be sacked, and have refused to accept her apology.
Roughly 80% of India’s population were classed as Hindu by the 2001 census.
Some 13% – more than 100 million people – were identified as Muslim.
India also has substantial populations of Christians, Sikhs and Buddhists.