Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday dismissed Agriculture Minister Damodar Rout from the council of ministers for his controversial and “derogatory” remarks against Brahmins, PTI reported.

“I strongly disapprove of anyone who makes derogatory remarks against any caste, creed or religion,” Patnaik told reporters in Bhubaneswar. “A letter has been sent to the Governor in the evening to accept this dismissal.”

Rout, who is also the vice president of the Biju Janata Dal, was not available for a comment. On December 17, at a function in southern Odisha’s Malkangiri district, Rout had said, “No tribal is seen begging in any part of the state, [but] one can spot Brahmins resorting to begging in places such as bus stands.”

The statement had triggered widespread protests across the state from the Brahmin community, many of whom demanded an unconditional apology from him and that he be dismissed. Though he was reportedly adamant about his statement initially, he had later apologised, PTI said.

Following Rout’s dismissal, Panchayati Raj Minister Pradeep Maharathy was given additional charge of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Resources departments, while Finance Minister Shashi Bhusan Behera got additional charge of Public Enterprises department, according to Odisha TV.