Politicians across the board have hit out at BJP leader Tarun Vijay after a video of him making racist remarks against south Indians went viral on Friday.
Congress leader P Chidambaram took a swipe at Vijay, asking him if members of the BJP and RSS were the only Indians in the country.
“When Tarun Vijay said ‘we live with blacks’, I ask him who is ‘we’? Was he referring to BJP/RSS members as the only Indians?” asked Chidambaram, who hails from Tamil Nadu, on Twitter.
Vijay had made the remark while defending India and its culture during an interview with news channel Al Jazeera’s online show The Stream to discuss recent attacks on African students in Greater Noida.
“If we were racist, why would we have all the entire south…Tamil, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra…why do we live with them? We have black people around us,” the former Rajya Sabha MP was heard saying in the video.
The comments come amid escalating tensions between a group of African nations – which have accused India of doing little to stop the assault – and the government that has called the accusation unfortunate.
Chidambaram’s party colleague Mallikarjun Kharge said Vijay’s statement was an example of the BJP’s mindset of “being superior”.
“I condemn such statements. This is the reason we have been maintaining that it is the tendency and philosophy of the BJP leaders that they even discriminate Indians,” Kharge told ANI
TKS Elangovan of the DMK, the opposition party in Tamil Nadu, said Vijay’s comments were funny as not all people in south India were dark-skinned.
“Our leader Dr Kalaignar is fair, Jayalalithaa was fair...He has chosen the wrong word while describing south Indians,” said Elangovan. “I do not know what he meant. Maybe he thought he is doing something good by saying that they are living with South Indians, therefore, they are not racist.”
Karnataka: NSUI protests against BJP leader Tarun Vijay in Bengaluru pic.twitter.com/kSQkuPlKOv— ANI (@ANI_news) April 8, 2017
CPI’s D Raja, another politician from Tamil Nadu, condemned Vijay’s remark, saying it exposed the fascist ideology of the RSS. He also demanded that the BJP denounce the comment.
“It is a deplorable statement coming from a BJP leader. It is shameful that BJP leaders are speaking in such language. It shows what RSS means, what it stands for...Tarun Vijay’s statement’s on racism is nothing but part of RSS fascist ideology,” said Raja.
Faced with the backlash, Vijay took to Twitter to apologise and said he meant to highlight India’s composite culture that worshipped the dark-skinned god, Krishna. “Feel bad ,really feel sorry, my apologies to those who feel i said different than what I meant.”
He later claimed that he never called south Indians “black”.
“I never, never, even in a slip, termed south India as black. 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,” he tweeted in response to accusations of racism.