Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader A Raja on Monday apologised for his remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and his mother, PTI reported.

Raja said he did not intend to that defame Palaniswami or his mother, and was only comparing the leadership of DMK President MK Stalin and the Tamil Nadu chief minister. “Still, I came across reports that the chief minister turned emotional at my remarks and I am deeply anguished over this,” he added. “I express regret from the bottom of my heart for lines that were misunderstood.”

Raja, DMK’s deputy general secretary, had made the remarks about the chief minister at an election campaign on Saturday. “He [MK Stalin] served one year in prison under MISA [Maintenance of Internal Security Act], was district secretary, then general committee member, youth wing, secretary, treasurer, then working president and after Kalaignar’s passing, became party president,” Raja had said, according to NDTV. “That’s why one can say Stalin is born in the proper way, nine months after a proper marriage and rituals. Whereas Edappadi is born like a premature baby and came all of a sudden.”

In another speech, Raja had also called Palaniswami more “worthless than DMK chief MK Stalin’s slippers”. “Till the other day, Edappadi Palaniswami worked in vellamandi [jaggery market], how can he be a competition to Stalin?” Raja had said during an election meeting, according to NDTV. “The value of Stalin’s chappal [slippers] is more than you by one rupee. And he dares Stalin to challenge him?”

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However, on March 28, Raja had again clarified his remarks about Palaniswami, saying that his comments were misrepresented, according to The Times of India. The DMK leader said that he had made the remarks in a political context and not in reference to the chief minister’s personal life.

“Stalin evolved as a leader through a series of steps, while Edappadi K Palaniswami rose to power through a series of shortcuts,” Raja said, according to India Today. “I was trying to draw a picture of the way both have risen in politics by comparing them to babies. The speech has been cut and edited to create a different impression. I did not have any intention to make derogatory comments about the chief minister. I was just making a comparison.”

Palaniswami broke down while responding to Raja’s comments on Sunday. “Think about what all they will say if a common man is a chief minister,” Palaniswami said in north Chennai’s Tiruvottiyur neighbourhood, according to The Hindu. “If this can happen to a chief minister, who can give protection to common people like you? What will happen to the women if they come to power? Please think about it.”

Palaniswami accused Raja of making “vulgar and scandalous speeches” about him and said that he did not want to raise the matter but could not stop himself after seeing women present at the rally.

He said that a mother occupied a high position in society whether she was rich or poor and that anyone who insulted women would be punished by god.

“He is also born to a mother but insulted and humiliated mothers,” Palaniswami said, according to NDTV. “Such people should be punished by you. I was born and grew up in a poor family. My mother was poor but worked hard all her life. Now she is no more. Whether poor or rich, a mother’s position and status are high.”

The police have booked Raja, who has clarified his statement, for his comments. The AIADMK has also asked Election Commission to ban Raja from campaigning for the state Assembly polls.

Following Raja’s comments, Stalin urged his party members to keep their campaigns and speeches dignified.

Meanwhile, workers and supporters of the AIADMK and its alliance partners staged protests in several parts of the state, demanding Raja’s arrest. They also condemned the DMK for making anti-women statements. Bharatiya Janata Party leader Vanathi Srinivasan said Raja must apologise for the comments.

Elections to the 234-seat Tamil Nadu Assembly and the bye-poll to the Kanyakumari Lok Sabha seat will be held in a single phase, and the results will be announced on May 2.