India’s coal minister came under fire over a remark widely seen as sexist, AFP reports.

Sriprakash Jaiswal, a cabinet member of the ruling Congress party, claimed that “wives lose their appeal with age” during a poetry gathering in the northern city of Kanpur. Speaking of an Indian cricket victory over rivals Pakistan at the World T20 tournament, he said, “An old victory, like a wife of many years, loses its charm over time.”

The televised speech quickly irked women’s groups and opposition parties, naming him as “sexist” and “insensitive”.

“What the coal minister said is very wrong … He used wrong language for women and he should apologize,” Mamta Sharma, head of the National Commission for Women, told IANS news agency. Social activist Anita Dua have filed a petition against Mr. Jaiswal over “defamation and obscenity,” Wall Street Journal reports.

Mr. Jaiswal apologized Tuesday, claiming his comment had been taken out of context. “If my comments have hurt anyone, especially if I have offended the mothers and sisters of our country, I have no problem in apologizing. I not (sic) apologize, but I join my hands and pray for them to forgive me,” he told the news channel NDTV. “I don’t want to insult women. My statement was just a joke”.