National

The poha eaters: BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya’s remark stirs Twitter storm

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya offers sweets to a taxi driver in Kolkata on December 12, 2019, a day after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha.

BJP general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya offers sweets to a taxi driver in Kolkata on December 12, 2019, a day after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha.   | Photo Credit: PTI

BJP leader’s comment that his suspicions were aroused after workers ate poha draws snarky reactions.

BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya has attracted a torrent of criticism on social media, particularly in West Bengal, after his comments about the eating habits of labourers.

On January 23, Mr. Vijayvargiya said that he had suspected that there were some Bangladeshis among the construction labourers who had been working at his house after he had found them eating poha (flattened rice that is called chire in Bengal). Chire, a staple food among Bengalis, is consumed across the country, and the BJP leader’s remarks triggered a sharp reaction on Twitter on January 24.

“My dhobi [washerman] showed up eating a burger. I think he’s American,” tweeted a social media user named Kajol Srinivasan.

Speaking at a meeting in Indore to express support for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), Mr. Vijayvargiya said that some of the labourers working in his house had been eating only poha and that he had found this behaviour “strange” and therefore suspected them to be “Bangladeshis”.

“I suspected these workers were residents of Bangladesh. Two days after I became suspicious, they stopped working at my house. I have not filed any police complaint yet. I only mentioned this incident to warn people,” he was quoted as having said.

Photo posted on the official twitter account of former cricketer V.V.S. Laxman on November 15, 2019, shows Mr. Laxman, cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir and broadcaster Jatin Sapru eating jalebis and poha for breakfast in Indore on November 9, 2019.

Photo posted on the official twitter account of former cricketer V.V.S. Laxman on November 15, 2019, shows Mr. Laxman, cricketer-turned-politician Gautam Gambhir and broadcaster Jatin Sapru eating jalebis and poha for breakfast in Indore on November 9, 2019.   | Photo Credit: PTI

Following the comment, Twitter users reacted with a combination of outrage and sarcasm. “I literally eat only poha for breakfast. Guess I’m Bangladeshi too,” tweeted Anshul, another Twitter user. Many remarked that the BJP appeared to have extended their campaign against select foods to include flattened rice after having initially started by targeting “beef”.

“Those who are excited about the comment on chire today, [do] remember that it all started with beef,” commented an activist Sumaan Sengupta. Others asserted that Mr. Vijayvargiya had “no idea” about the breakfast staples of the working class in the country as poha was consumed everywhere — from east to west, north to south.

“If not poha, what else you expect labourers to bring with them — butter chicken?” tweeted Ravinder Singh.

(With PTI inputs)

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 10:19:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/the-poha-eaters-bjp-leader-kailash-vijayvargiyas-remark-stirs-twitter-storm/article30644649.ece

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