Senior BJP leader and central minister Bisheswar Tudu has courted controversy by claiming that many of the officers appointed through the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) are "dacoits".

He alleged that while a "chicken thief" can be punished, an official who runs a mineral mafia cannot be touched as the system protects him.

The union minister of state for tribal affairs and jalshakti made the remarks while addressing a gathering as chief guest at the golden jubilee function of a government school at Baliapal in Balasore district.

He was heard making the controversial statement in a viral video. PTI could not verify the authenticity of the video clip.

“I had an idea that those who are appointed through UPSC ... they are the most knowledgeable persons and are always in high positions. But now, I feel that most of those who have qualified from there perhaps are dacoits. I do not say 100 per cent, but many of them are dacoits,” Tudu asserted.

The UPSC is the country’s premier central recruitment commission, which functions as an independent body and appoints top government officers.

The minister, who is an MP of Odisha, said the UPSC office is just behind his residence in Delhi, and initially he had high regard for it but that has changed now.

During his speech, Tudu also asked: “Why is our society engulfed in corruption and injustice if such educated people are there?”.

“It is because of lack of morality in our education system. Lack of spiritual education and thoughts among us.”.

The minister had also stoked controversy in 2021 by accusing state government officials of misbehaving with him in his constituency in Mayurbhanj.