National

Tarun causes stir with racist remark

BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha member Tarun Vijay's statement to a television channel that Indians could not be racists as they lived with “black” South Indians, sparked off a storm on the social media on Friday, with Mr. Vijay coming in for severe criticism.

“If we were racist, why would we have the entire south, which is you know... completely Tamil, you know Kerala, you know Karnataka and Andhra. Why do we live with them? We have blacks, black people all around us,” Mr. Vijay had said.

Faced with a torrent of online condemnation, Mr. Vijay was forced to apologise profusely on Twitter.

“My words perhaps were not enough to convey this. Feel bad, really feel sorry, my apologies to those who feel I said different than what I meant,” he tweeted later. “I feel the entire statement says this -- we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture... still never had any racism.... Never said what is being interpreted.”

He added: “I have Tamil, Bengali, Telugu in my family -- worked with commitment for Tamil culture, without any politics, collectively with all. I can die, but how can I ridicule my own culture, my own people and my own nation? Think before you misinterpret my badly framed sentence.”

The statement, however, invited criticism from the political class.

“This shocking statement speaks volumes about the bigoted mindset of the BJP! Sad, that we have come to this,” Congress communication department chief Randeep Surjewala tweeted.

Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat told The Hindu: “Mr. Tarun Vijay's comment reflects the core Hindutva ideology of Aryan superiority. What was in my mind came out today. He has apologised for his words, but his thoughts will remain what they are.”

“This is fascist, supremacist mentality of the RSS. And it is for the BJP leaders from South India to introspect. How can they be treated as second class citizens? His words were: 'We live with the South Indians.' Who is he to decide on granting such small mercies?” said AIMIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi.

“Are we the tenants and you are the masters? Is this the new India Modi wants to build, where just by someone’s skin colour his or her standing in society would be decided? What has complexion got to do with someone’s Indianness? I am reminded of Nazis, who based on features and other characteristics divided the society. This mindset is sickening,” he added.

Mr. Vijay is a former editor of RSS-related publication Panchjanya.

While refusing to come on record, a BJP leader said that Mr. Vijay had himself retracted his statement and it was time to move on.

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 12:20:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tarun-causes-stir-with-racist-remark/article17876140.ece

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