Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam waded into a controversy on Wednesday by calling Prime Minister Narendra Modi an “anpadh gawar”, or illiterate person.

“What will children studying in schools and colleges gain by learning about an illiterate person like Modi,” Nirupam told ANI in response to the Maharashtra government’s decision to screen a short film on Modi’s life in Mumbai schools. “It is a shameful thing that the country’s citizens and children still do not know how many degrees the PM has.”

He said the decision to screen the film forcibly was wrong. “Children should be kept away from politics,” Nirupam added, according to PTI.

His comments were severely criticised by the Bharatiya Janata Party. Shaina NC, the party’s Maharashtra unit spokesperson, called Nirupam “mentally deranged” for the statement. “Yet another abnoxious (sic) comment by a mentally deranged @sanjaynirupam,” she wrote on Twitter. “May be he forgets that @narendramodi is elected by 125 cr Indians who aren’t ‘unpad or gavar’. INCIndia is devoid of ideology and relevant questions. Sure citizens will give a befitting reply in 2019.

BJP MP Anil Shirole called Nirupam out for insulting the Prime Minister’s Office. “PM is not a representative of one party, he is the prime minister of the country and it’s (sic) people,” he wrote on Twitter. “Sanjay Nirupam by insulting our PM you have insulted and disrespected the office, the country and the constitution drafted by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar ji (sic).”

Nirupam, however, refused to apologise and said his words weren’t undignified. “It’s a democracy and prime minister isn’t god in a democracy, people speak of him while maintaining decorum,” Nirupam told ANI. “The words I used aren’t undignified.”