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  India   Politics  08 Apr 2017  ‘Black Indians’ remark by Tarun Vijay sparks outrage

‘Black Indians’ remark by Tarun Vijay sparks outrage

Published : Apr 8, 2017, 2:37 am IST
Updated : Apr 8, 2017, 2:37 am IST

Condemning the attack of African students, the BJP leader said they were by “mindless, criminalised people”.

Former BJP MP Tarun VIjay
 Former BJP MP Tarun VIjay

New Delhi: Former BJP MP Tarun Vijay on Friday put his foot firmly in his mouth while making a valiant attempt to project India as a nation that was not racist. He explained India’s non-racist attitude by throwing light on how Indians had “black people” all around them and actually “lived” with these “black people” from “Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh”. Mr Vijay, who was the former editor of RSS-affiliated weekly Panchjanya, made these comments during a television debate on “Racism against Africans in India”. Rattled by the uproar following his comments, he tweeted an apology for his “badly framed sentence”. Incidentally, he also heads the India-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Group.

When asked why it was being felt that Indians were racist, he 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 (sic).” His comments drew flak from the Congress which said it was “shocking”, while the DMK said it was “funny”. Mr Vijay also had to face massive social media outrage. An embarrassed BJP said Mr Vijay “could have phrased his comments differently”.

Slamming the BJP leader for his remarks, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge
said the comments showed the saffron party’s tendency to discriminate among people of the country. DMK MP, T.K.S Elangovan pointed out that not all people in south India are dark-skinned and cited the example of late Tamil Nadu chief minister J. Jayalalithaa and also DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi. “I find it funny. Our leader Dr Kalaignar is fair, (late) Jayalalithaa was fair. Racism is not in colour and that is what Tarun Vijay should understand. He has chosen the wrong word while describing South Indians,” said Mr Elangovan.

Actor-turned-politician and Congress leader Khushboo said such remarks by the BJP
leader were “shocking” and pointed out that he should have been more careful especially since he has worked to promote the Tamil culture. BJP spokesperson Shaina N.C. said her party believes in an inclusive approach towards every religion, language and culture.

“Maybe he (Vijay) could have worded it differently... For whatever words (used by Vijay), India continues to be a diverse country,” said Ms Shaina N.C.

While insisiting that “…to say Indians can be racist is the most vicious thing” Mr Vijay gave examples of Indians worshipping a “black God — Krishna” and said “descendants of black Africans have been living amicably” in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Condemning the attack of African students, the BJP leader said they were by “mindless, criminalised people”.   

Mr Vijay said Indians themselves were the victims of racism for long by the British and had fought against racism. “..we gave Gandhi to Africa and they turned him into Mahatma...we have great affinity and respect for each other,” the BJP leader said.  

 After his remarks ended up creating a massive uproar, Mr Vijay tweeted, “Feel bad, really feel sorry, my apologies to those who feel I said different than what I meant.....I feel the entire statement was this; we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture, and still never had any racism. He, however, claimed that he never called south India as “black”.

Responding to accusations of racism, he tweeted: “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.”

Tags: tarun vijay, racism, mallikarjun kharge
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi