Minister of State for Employment and Skill Development Anantkumar Hegde on Sunday claimed that secular people do not have an “identity of their parental blood”, adding that the Constitution needs to be amended, The Hindu reported.

Hegde was speaking at an event in Yelburga taluk of Koppal district of Karnataka. “Those claiming to be secular and progressive do not have an identity of their parents and their blood,” The Hindu quoted him as saying. “I will be happy if someone identifies as Muslim, Christian, Brahmin, Lingayat or Hindu. But trouble will arise if they say they are secular.”

The Bharatiya Janata Party leader said the Constitution is currently based on the thoughts of BR Ambedkar. “I respect the Constitution, but the Constitution has changed according to the times on many occasions in the past and it will change in the future. We are here to change the Constitution,” Hegde said, according to The News Minute.

Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah criticised the Union minister’s statement, saying his comments exposed the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s views on Ambedkar. “I do not want to stoop to his level,” Siddaramaiah said, according to The New Indian Express. “We know our language and culture. He is a Union minister, but spits venom.”

Hegde’s comments come months ahead of the Assembly elections in the state. The Karnataka Assembly’s tenure ends in May 2018.

In November, Hegde had stirred a controversy after he said that if the Karnataka chief minister could celebrate Tipu Jayanti, people would soon start celebrating “Ajmal Kasab Jayanti”.