An ideologue of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on Friday appeared to have called for an end to India’s quota policy for minorities. “If reservation continues for too long, it will lead to separatism,” said Manmohan Vaidya.

He made the statement while addressing a gathering at the Jaipur Literature Festival, where he was invited to speak along with fellow RSS thinker Dattatreya Hosabale.

Vaidya’s remarks may prove detrimental to the Bharatiya Janata Party, as they come a couple of weeks ahead of Assembly elections in five states. His statement is reminiscent of RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s remarks before the Bihar Assembly elections, when he had called for a review of India’s reservation system.

The RSS ideologue later clarified his comments. “I had said that there will be reservation as long as there are differences in the society. RSS is in favour of reservation,” he told ANI. “On reservation based on religion, I said it has no historical background and may encourage separatism,” he explained, adding that education must be promoted instead.

Responding to Vaidya’s remarks, Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad Yadav said Uttar Pradesh will now remind BJP of the consequences of making such statements as Bihar had in November 2015. Yadav was referring to the BJP’s defeat in the state polls to the RJD-Janata Dal (United) alliance.

Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal, too, reacted on Twitter, calling the BJP and Akalis “anti-Dalit”. “RSS has repeated today that it is against reservations...We will not let the BJP end reservation,” he said. The AAP has been at odds with the BJP since it came to power in Delhi, and will contest against BJP-Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab next month.

Congress leader RS Surjewala asked the prime minister to apologise for the remarks. “This is a sinister conspiracy of the BJP-RSS to divide and polarise votes. They are anti-Dalit and anti-poor,” he told ANI.