Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi, facing a huge backlash over his "UP, Bihar de bhaiye" comment ahead of polls in the state, put out a clarification today and said his statement was twisted and misrepresented.
"I only meant people like Durgesh Pathak, Sanjay Singh and Arvind Kejriwal (Aam Aadmi Party leaders) who come from outside and cause disruptions," Mr Channi said in a video statement in response to spiralling criticism.
"Since yesterday my statement has been twisted. Those who have shed their blood and sweat for Punjab' progress, we have a bond of love with them and nothing can take them out of our hearts," said the Chief Minister.
While campaigning with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra yesterday in Punjab, Mr Channi had said: "Priyanka Gandhi is Punjab's daughter-in-law, she is the bahu of Punjabis. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi de bhaiye cannot come here and rule. We will not allow UP bhaiyas to stray into Punjab." Priyanka Gandhi, next to him, clapped and smiled.
Attacked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for her stance, Priyanka Gandhi said: "All that CM Charanjit Channi said was that Punjab should be run by Punjabis. His statement was misconstrued. I don't think anyone from UP is interested in coming to Punjab and ruling."
Mr Channi said he was speaking about Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders.
"But those who come to UP, Bihar and Rajasthan and work in Punjab - Punjab belongs to them as much as it does to us. Please don't portray this in a wrong way. Many come from outside and work in our factories, fields... I urge every brother, don't link yourself with people like Kejriwal."
Mr Channi has been sharply attacked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the comments.
"What the Congress Chief Minister said here the entire country has seen. The family from Delhi is his maalik (boss), that maalik was standing next to him, clapping," PM Modi said at a rally in Punjab.
"Where was Guru Govind Singh born? In Patna Sahib, in Bihar. Will you throw Guru Govind Singh out of Punjab? People of such divisive mentality should not be allowed to rule Punjab even for one moment," said the Prime Minister.
PM Modi also referenced Guru Ravidas, a Dalit icon whose birth anniversary yesterday saw various political leaders visiting temples to pay tribute.
"Only yesterday we observed Sant Ravidas Jayanti. Where was he born? In Uttar Pradesh, in Varanasi. Will you remove Sant Ravidas from Punjab?" asked the PM.
In Patna, Nitish Kumar said he was stunned at Mr Channi's comments.
"It does not make any sense. Do they know what is the contribution of the people of Bihar in Punjab and how many are living and serving (there)? I am stunned how people make such statements," said Mr Kumar, who leads a coalition government with the BJP.