‘Will you cook fish for Bengalis?’ Paresh Rawal's Gujarat speech draws flak. He clarifies

Updated on Dec 02, 2022 01:37 PM IST

As Paresh Rawal campaigned in Gujarat before the first phase of the election, he said gas prices will come down eventually but ‘what will you do with gas cylinders? Cook fish for Bengalis?’ – as he was speaking about border security.

Paresh Rawal's mention of Bengalis in his campaign speech before the 1st phase polling in Gujarat triggers social media outrage.
Paresh Rawal's mention of Bengalis in his campaign speech before the 1st phase polling in Gujarat triggers social media outrage.

Actor and former BJP MP Paresh Rawal campaigned in Gujarat ahead of the first phase of the Assembly election which was held on December 1. A video of his campaign speech in Valsad is now going viral drawing the ire of social media users who accused him of Bengali-hatred. On Friday, Paresh Rawal offered a clarification of the comment and explained that he did not target Bengalis, but illegal Bangladeshis. He also tendered an apology for the remark.

"Gas cylinders are expensive but they will come down. People will get employment too. But what will happen if Rohingya migrants and Bangladeshis start living around you, like in Delhi? What will you do with gas cylinders? Cook fish for the Bengalis?" Paresh Rawal said in his speech on Tuesday. Gujarat can tolerate inflation but not this, the actor-turned-politician said. “Way they deliver verbal abuses. A person among them needs to wear a diaper on his mouth,” he said, as reported by DeshGujarat.

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Reacting to Paresh Rawal's fish-eating Bengalis jibe connecting it to Rohingyas, Trinamool MP Kirti Azad asked whether Paresh Rawal was hinting that the BSF and the Union home ministry were not working properly as he said Bangladeshis and Rohingyas were entering India.

Social media users called Paresh Rawal's speech 'xenophobia and dog whistling against Rohingya and Bangladeshi Muslims' while they said his hatred towards fish-eating Bengalis was hardly subtle. “Disgusting xenophobia on display. At least we Bengalis cook fish, not spee venom and propagate hate. And this man played a Bengali in his latest film, that too a character written by a legendary Bengali. Bengal should boycott movies of @SirPareshRawal," a social media user wrote.

Issuing an apology, Paresh Rawal said Gujaratis too eat fish and he did not mean to attack Bengalis – but illegal Bangladeshis.

“of course the fish is not the issue AS GUJARATIS DO COOK AND EAT FISH . BUT LET ME CLARIFY BY BENGALI I MEANT ILLEGAL BANGLA DESHI N ROHINGYA. BUT STILL IF I HAVE HURT YOUR FEELINGS AND SENTIMENTS I DO APOLOGISE,” Paresh Rawal said.

The first phase of the election took place on Thursday with over 23,976,670 people registering their votes in 89 constituencies. The second phase will be held on December 5. The counting will take place on December 8.

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