Bihar Bharatiya Janata Party President Nityanand Rai on Monday urged party workers to cut off the fingers and hands of the critics of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, The Indian Express reported.

The Lok Sabha member from Ujiyarpur constituency in Bihar said that Modi had overcome many odds and risen from a humble background to lead the country. “From such circumstances, he has grown to be PM – the son of a poor; each individual should be honoured by this,” he said at an event organised by the Vaishya and Kanu communities. Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Modi and several other state Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were also present at the event.

Rai then added, “If anyone raises a finger or hand against the prime minister, we should get together to either break it or, if need be, chop it off.”

Later, Rai defended himself and said it was only an expression. “I used the expression of breaking fingers and chopping hands as proverbs to convey that we would strongly deal with those who rise against the country’s pride and security,” he told The Indian Express. Adding that this was an off-the-cuff remark that was not meant for any particular individuals or opposition parties, Rai said that he was talking about the country, and not Modi.