BJP leader and former MP Tarun Vijay, who is also the head of the India-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Group, courted controversy by making racist remarks against people living in South India. Vijay is an author, thinker, social worker, journalist, and parliamentarian.
Vijay appeared as a panelist on an al-Jazeera debate on whether African students can feel safe in India following the assault on two Nigerian students by a mob in a mall in Greater Noida. The former BJP MP denied the fact that the attacks had anything to do with racism. He said:
"To say that Indians can be racist is a most vicious thing because we worship a black god, Krishna is black... If we were racist, why would we have the entire south [India]? Which is you know, completely Tamil, you know Kerala, you know Karnataka and Andhra. Why do we live with them [if we are racist]? We have blacks, black people around us."
He added: "Some time back, there were Biharis attacked in Maharashtra. There were Marathis who were threatened in Bihar. And so on, but they can't be racist attacks. There have been many such attacks, one community reacting against another community – for certain reasons, economy or just like that; criminalised behaviour needs no logic."
Nityanand Jayaraman, a well-known environmental acitvist from Tamil Nadu, strongly criticised Vijay's statement and wrote in a Facebook post: "Black is a colour not a personality trait. Who is the WE that he is referring to? Does it include us darkies from the south? Tarun Vijay is merely stating a fact when he says that this nation has a diversity of skin tones. But the presence of this diversity in our society is not proof of its acceptance of the diversity. That is like saying that India is not a violently sexist patriarchy because women constitute roughly 50 percent of this great nation."
Vijay, later, apologised for his statement and wrote on Twitter that he "never meant" to say what is being "interpreted".
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 https://t.co/I7MddEJk5W
— Tarun Vijay (@Tarunvijay) April 7, 2017
I feel the entire statement sas this- we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture still never had any racism. — Tarun Vijay (@Tarunvijay) April 7, 2017
Vijay's comments, however, did not go down well with the Twitterati who lashed out at the BJP leader for his racist comments:
"How would he react if a Manipuri, a Naga or an Arunachal person faces an untoward incident?" https://t.co/ui0v9HmgWj
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Not making this up!
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— J Venkatesh (@jvsk3) April 7, 2017
— Where were you when (@sowhardh) April 7, 2017