Congress leader Sam Pitroda on Wednesday resigned from the post of chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress after his remarks on India’s diversity sparked a controversy.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh announced the development on X, saying that Pitroda had stepped down from the post “of his own accord”.

In an interview with The Statesman on Thursday, Pitroda said that India had survived for 75 years in “a very happy environment where people could live together, leaving aside a few fights here and there”.

“We could hold a country together as diverse as India, where people on the east look like Chinese, people on the West look like Arab, people on the North look like white and maybe people on the South look like Africans,” the Indian Overseas Congress chairman remarked.

The party had distanced itself from his remarks, labelling them as “unfortunate and unacceptable”.

Ramesh, responding to Pitroda’s remarks on social media, said that the Opposition party “rejects these analogies”.

Ramesh’s clarification came amid criticism from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Pitroda’s comments were “completely racist and very disgusting”.

Modi, speaking at a rally in Telangana’s Warangal district, referred to Pitroda as Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s “philosopher”.

“Today, the shehzada’s philosopher has hurled such an abuse that it has filled me with anger,” Modi said. The prime minister has repeatedly referred to Gandhi as the shehzada, or the prince, of the Congress.

“Can we decide a person’s merit based on skin colour?” Modi asked. “Who permitted the shehzada to look down on my people like that? We will not accept this racist mentality.”

Last month, Pitroda triggered a controversy with his remarks on inheritance taxes in the United States. An inheritance tax is imposed on a person who inherits wealth or property from a person who has died.

“If one has 100 million USD [United States Dollar] worth of wealth and when he dies he can only transfer probably 45% to his children, 55% is grabbed by the government,” ANI quoted Pitroda as saying in an interview on April 24.

“That’s an interesting law. It says you in your generation, made wealth and you are leaving now, you must leave your wealth for the public—not all of it, but half of it, which to me sounds fair.”

Hours later, Modi claimed that the Congress intends to snatch away the private assets and rights of people’s children and said that Pitroda’s comments had exposed the “dangerous” intentions of the party.

In response, Ramesh clarified that the Congress does not have any plans to introduce an inheritance tax in India if it comes to power. Ramesh also cited news reports to claim that it was the ruling BJP that floated the idea of imposing an inheritance tax in India on a few occasions between 2014 and 2019.