BJP ex-MP in row over 'blacks' in south remark

BJP ex-MP in row over 'blacks' in south remark

BJP ex-MP in row over 'blacks' in south remark

Former BJP MP Tarun Vijay ended up fuelling a controversy on Friday while trying to douse another. He argued that if Indians were racist, why would they live with those from the south, who are “blacks”.

Vijay, a former editor of the RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya, made the remarks on al Jazeera’s online show The Stream while defending the Narendra Modi government over the attacks on Africans in Greater Noida last month.

Vijay said: “If we (Indians) 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”.

A group of 44 African envoys had dubbed the mob violence “xenophobic and racial”. They had also accused the Centre of not taking “known, sufficient and visible” action that could deter future possible assaults.

The government had stated that the assaults on African students were merely criminal acts. The Congress’s leader in the Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge ridiculed Vijay for his comments which he insisted showed the BJP’s inclination to discriminate between the people of its own country.

DMK’s former MP Kanimozhi described it as an “anti-national” statement. “I hope the BJP takes strict action against him,” she said.

DMK’s organising secretary T K S Elangovan was more critical. “Racism is not in colour, racism is in culture. This is funny that people living in Tamil Nadu or Kerala are black. He has chosen a wrong word to define south Indians,” he said.

Forced onto the back foot after the video went viral, Vijay tendered an apology on his official Twitter handle. “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,” Vijay tweeted.

In another tweet, he said, “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. Yes”.

Interestingly, Vijay also posted a photograph showing him with former Tamil Nadu chief minister O Paneerselvam last December to “thank Late CM Jayalalithaa for helping Thiruvalluvar statue at Haridwar (sic)”.

An embarrassed BJP spokesperson Shaina N C felt the former MP could have phrased his statement differently. “Maybe he (Vijay) could have worded it differently...For whatever words (used by Vijay), India continues to be a diverse country,” she said.