BJP’s Tarun Vijay: We’re Not Racist, We Live With South Indians

The brutal assault on two Nigerian students by a mob in a Greater Noida mall has raised questions on whether African students can feel safe in India.

Appearing as a panelist on an Al Jazeera debate on the issue, former BJP MP Tarun Vijay chose to deny that attacks on Africans had anything to do with racism. He rubbished allegations of racism in India, saying:

Tarun Vijay, Head of the India-Africa Parliamentary Friendship GroupTo say that Indians can be racist is a most vicious thing because we worship a black god, Krishna is black.

So how can we possibly be racist if we worship a black god, right? 

‘But We Have South Indians...’

In his continued defence of how racism was a concept alien to India, the BJP National Executive member said,

(Photo: The Quint)

Tarun VijayIf 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. You are denying your own nation, you are denying your ancestry, you are denying your culture...

Reacting to Vijay’s comments, Nityanand Jayaraman, a well-known environmental acitvist from Tamil Nadu, wrote on Facebook, “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.”

Nityanand JayaramanBut 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. What Tarunbhai needs to defend is how the dominant values of this society are so perverted and racist despite the rich diversity of its cultures, skin colours and belief systems.

'But Even Indians From Different Communities Fight Each Other'

Vijay had more arguments up his sleeve. But sensible ones? We’re not so sure.

(Photo: The Quint)

Tarun VijaySome time back, there were Biharis who 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.

Not everyone was convinced by Vijay’s arguments.

The BJP leader has since offered an apology on Twitter.

Within an hour of these tweets though, Vijay said that his ‘badly framed sentence’ was being misinterpreted, and that he had ‘never, even in a slip, termed south India as black’.

Decide for yourself. Here’s the entire Al Jazeera debate.

What do you think of Tarun Vijay’s arguments for claiming that racism does not exist in India? Tell us in the comments below.

Join The Quint on WhatsApp. Type “JOIN” and send to 9910181818.