An Indian parliamentarian representing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has warned that the fingers and hands of those who dare to criticise Prime Minister Narendra Modi would be chopped off.
Nityanand Rai, a member of Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian parliament) and head of state BJP unit in Bihar, heralded the achievements of the prime minister, who hails from a humble background, and insisted that Modi should be a matter of pride for the entire country.
Rai, 51, was addressing a gathering of party workers in Bihar's Patna city when he made the contentious remarks sparking a serious controversy.
"Each citizen of the country should be proud that the son of a poor family rose from humble beginnings to become India's prime minister," said Rai, highlighting Modi's childhood journey from his humble past.
"Any finger or hand rose towards him, we should together either break it or if needed, chop it off," he told the party-workers.
The lawmaker went on: "When Narendra Modi's mother would serve food to him, neither she would see her son in that plate nor the son would see the mother. Under such circumstances, he has grown to be PM – the son of a poor, each individual should be honoured by this."
Opposition parties have strongly condemned Rai's speech. "Do these words deserve any place in a democratic set-up like India? The BJP leader is behaving in this way to defend a dictator," said Shakti Yadav, spokesperson for the Bihar's opposition party, Rashtriya Janata Dal.
Rai later apologised after his comments attracted strong criticism from political circles. "I was misinterpreted was what I had said was a proverb in Hindi," he said, before adding: "But, even if it has hurt anyone, I feel sorry for this."
This is not the first time Rai is in the news for wrong reasons. In August 2017, he commented that Indian national song and patriotic slogans should replace mosque's prayers and churches' bells. But, he later clarified that he meant those patriotic slogans should also be included in mosques and churches but not replace the existing religious prayers.