Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Tuesday apologised for his statements comparing Punjabis and Jats with Bengalis, and said he did not intend to hurt sentiments.
Deb had stirred a controversy by saying Punjabis and Jats are physically strong but less brainy while Bengalis are known to be very intelligent.
In a series of tweets in Hindi on Tuesday morning, the chief minister sought forgiveness for his remarks and said many of his friends were Punjabis and Jats, and he is proud of people hailing from the two communities.
"I always salute the contributions of the Punjabi and Jat communities in the freedom struggle of the country. And I can never imagine raising questions on the role played by these two communities in advancing India," Deb tweeted.
"I had expressed the views some people have about them. I am proud of Punjabi and Jat communities. I have lived among them for quite some time... If my statement has hurt anyone's feelings, I apologise for that," the chief minister said on Twitter.
Addressing a programme at the Agartala Press Club on Sunday, Deb had said every community in India is known for its certain type and character. A video clip of the chief minister's statement had gone viral on social media. "For Bengal or Bengalis, it is said that one should not challenge them when it is regarding intelligence. Bengalis are known as very intelligent and it is their identity," Deb was heard saying in the clip. Punjabis and Jats are known for their physical strength, he had said.
"When we talk about the people of Punjab, we say he's a Punjabi, a Sardar. They may have less intelligence but are very strong. One can't win them over by strength but with love and affection. A large number of Jats live in Haryana. So what do people say about Jats? Jats are less intelligent but are very healthy. If one challenges a Jat, he will bring a gun from his house," Deb had said.
Earlier, too, the chief minister had courted controversies on several occasions. In 2018, he said Internet and satellite television existed in the time of the Mahabharata. He had questioned the crowning of Diana Hayden as "Miss World" in 1997 and alleged that international beauty pageants were a farce. Last year, he claimed that Mughals intended to destroy the cultural wonders of the state by "bombing" its arts and architecture.
(With inputs from PTI)