The 49-year-old minister was speaking at a function in Kukanur of Koppal district in the state when he urged people to "claim with pride that they are Muslim, Christian, Lingayat, Brahmin, or a Hindu," adding, "Those who, without knowing about their parental blood, call themselves secular, they don't have their own identity...They don't know about their parentage, but they are intellectuals."
He also said, "Some people say the Constitution says secular and you must accept it. We will respect the Constitution, but the Constitution has changed several times and it will change in the future too. We are here to change the Constitution and we'll change it."
The Karnataka Congress has asked if the BJP endorses its minister's views and suggested that if so, the party must face assembly elections in the state next year "on this agenda." Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Mr Hegde has "clearly not studied the Constitution, does not know parliamentary or political language," and must know that "each and every individual in this country is an Indian, And every religion has equal right and opportunity."
Mr Hegde, known for making controversial comments, has been in a series of rows since he was inducted as minister for skill development and entrepreneurship. A case was registered against him earlier this month for allegedly abusing Mr Siddaramaiah at Kittur in Belagavi district.