BJP president Amit Shah pulls up Giriraj Singh for racist barb against Sonia
Union minister Giriraj Singh, who triggered a major row on Wednesday with his racist comments on Sonia Gandhi, was forced to express his regrets after a call from BJP president Amit Shah who made it clear to him that "such language" was not acceptable.Updated: Apr 01, 2015 22:38 IST
Union minister Giriraj Singh, who triggered a major row on Wednesday with his racist comments on Sonia Gandhi, was forced to express his regrets after a call from BJP president Amit Shah who made it clear to him that "such language" was not acceptable.
Party sources said Shah called Singh over telephone and told the BJP MP from Nawada in Bihar that it was unbecoming of a minister to use such a language.
BJP president Shah summoned Singh and asked him not to be an embarrassment to the government and the party, NDTV reported. Some other reports also said Shah asked the minister not to attack any leader personally.
Singh, who is the minister of state for micro, small and medium enterprises, kicked up a major row after questioning whether the Congress would have accepted Sonia Gandhi as its chief if the colour of her skin had not been white. "If Rajiv Gandhi had married some Nigerian lady, if she wasn't white, would the Congress party have given her its leadership?"
In other remarks aired by the TV channel on Wednesday, Singh could be seen poking fun at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. As a row erupted, Singh said the remark was "informal" and "off the record". He also offered regrets "if the comment hurt Sonia and Rahul."
Video: Giriraj Singh's triggers a massive controversy
The Congress and other opposition parties demanded his ouster from the Union ministry.
"Congress strongly deprecates and condemns the intemperate and distasteful remarks of Union Minister, Shri Giriraj Singh, bordering on insanity... Prime Minister must dismiss such a minister and apologise to the nation," said the party's communication department in-charge, Randeep Surjewala.
Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, said Singh's comments were "shameful". "Such people have been kept by Modiji in his government," he said.
Senior CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat questioned the Prime Minister's "silence" and wondered how, under his leadership, the "worst" kind of statements were being made.
In a major embarrassment to the Modi government, Nigerian high commissioner OB Okongor said such remarks by a minister was "unacceptable".
Giriraj Singh had courted controversy with his comments in the past too.
He had embarrassed the BJP during last year's Lok Sabha polls by saying that those who opposed Narendra Modi should go to Pakistan as there was no place for them in India. Singh, who was earlier a minister in the Bihar government led by chief minister Nitish Kumar, made those remarks in the presence of senior BJP leader Nitin Gadkari at a rally in Jharkhand.
Singh was embroiled in another controversy in July last year, when the police and income tax department started a probe after Rs 1.14 crore was recovered from his home. After he became a Union minister, the probes were shelved.
He won his spurs in the BJP with a strong pro-Modi stance at a time when the party's top rung was not backing Modi's candidature as prime miniser. The unflinching loyalty reportedly bagged Singh a ministerial berth despite reservations within the BJP.