Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb tied himself into knots on Tuesday over his comments on the brains and brawn of Haryana Jats. Though he quickly rushed to issue a clarification, the pot had been stirred.

“Jats have inferior intelligence they are healthy and muscular but they don’t compare with Bengalis in intelligence, Bengalis are known for their intelligence across India,” Deb said at an event in Agartala.

This invited instant backlash from political parties and on social media. Calling the comment ‘shameful and unfortunate’, Congress leader from Haryana Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted, “Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb has insulted Jats and Sikhs by saying that they are of inferior intelligence. This reeks of the BJP’s petty mentality.” Calling out top leaders Surjewala added, “Why are Khattarji and Dushyant Chautala silent, where are Modiji and Naddaji. They must apologise and take action.”

Deb quickly jumped in for damage control saying that he was just mentioning views of some people. “In an event organized at Agartala Press Club, I had mentioned the views of some people about my Punjabi & Jat brothers. I did not intend to hurt any community. I’m proud of both Punjabi & Jat communities. I myself have lived among them for a long time,” the Tripura CM said.

This is not the first time Deb has courted controversy with his remarks. Earlier, he had said that the internet and satellite communication existed in the days of the Mahabharata. “The Europeans and the Americans may claim it is theirs, but it is actually our technology,” he had said.