Union minister Arjun Ram Meghwal claimed on Saturday that incidents of mob lynching will continue in the country as long as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity keeps rising. Videos of the statement went viral on social media.

Reacting to another incident of a mob murdering a Muslim man in Alwar district allegedly for smuggling cows, Meghwal told reporters: “We condemn mob lynching. However, this is not an isolated incident. You have to see it in a historical context. Were not the 1984 anti-Sikh riots an example of mob lynching?”

“[Home Minister] Rajnath Singh has condemned these incidents in Parliament,” Meghwal said. “Modi himself has spoken out against them. We will stop them. But this is not an isolated incident. As Modi’s popularity increases, these incidents will keep happening.”

The Union minister of state for water resources condemned the incident but hinted that it was part of a conspiracy, and said that such killings were a reaction to developmental projects initiated by the prime minister. “After the Bihar elections, there was ‘award wapsi’,” he said. “During the Uttar Pradesh elections, it could be mob lynching. When the 2019 [Lok Sabha elections] come by, it could be something else, like ‘intolerance’.”