New Delhi: BJP’s former Rajya Sabha member and president of the India-Africa Parliamentary Friendship Group Tarun Vijay has kicked a storm by calling South Indians “blacks” while participating in an Al Jazeera show on the recent racist attacks in India.
“If we were racist, why would we have all the entire South (India) which is… you know Tamil Nadu, you know Karnataka and Andhra… why do we live with them? We have black people all around us,” Vijay said in response to Mahesh Shantaram, a Bengaluru-based photographer who said he found Indians to be racists.
“You are denying your own nation, you are denying your own ancestry, you are denying your own history, you are denying your own culture… and you are trying to be good. That’s very bad,” an agitated MP told the photographer before the moderator intervened.
In his opening remarks on the show, The Stream, Vijay said, “To say that Indians can be racist is the most vicious thing because we worship black gods... Krishna is back. And we have been seeing the descendants of the Africans living amicably in states like Maharashtra and Gujarat.”
Commenting on the recent attack on African students in Greater Noida, he said, “It can’t be a racist attack. There have been many such incidents… for several reasons… like economy… or sometimes even without a reason because of the criminalised behaviour doesn’t need any logic.”
“We gave Gandhi to Africa and Africa turned him into a Mahatma and sent him back to us,” said Vijay. “We are the victims of racism… how can we be racist? We have fought against racism.”
Later, in a series of tweets, the BJP leader said he had been misquoted.
I said we worship Krishna, which literally em,ans black, we were the first to oppose any racism and were in fact victims of racist British https://t.co/kjSBSNl9w8— 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
Hitting out at Tarun Vijay for his remarks, Congress leader Khushboo Sundar said: “Tarun Vijay’s statement is bizarre and senseless. Where does the colour come from... This statement is surprising.”
“It’s high time that people stop looking at others for the colour from their skin,” she told CNN-News18.
DMK’s Kanimozhi termed it an “anti-national” statement. “I hope the BJP takes strict action against him,” she told CNN-News18.
Chinmayi Sripada also hit out at Tarun Vijay and tweeted:
Thank you Sri Tarun Vijay. Us South Indians are proud to be black. Also, much thanks for your compassion.— Chinmayi Sripaada (@Chinmayi) April 7, 2017
TKS Elangovan an organisation Secretary of DMK said, “Racism is not in colour, Racism is in culture. This is funny that people living in Tamil Nadu or Kerala are black. He has chosen a wrong word to define South Indians".On March 27, at least nine Africans were seriously injured in mob violence in Greater Noida in a fallout of March 24’s raid on Nigerian students by local people who accused them of cannibalism. Seven Nigerian passers-by were attacked at Pari Chowk at the heart of Greater Noida by a mob of about 100, which was demanding the government expel all Africans because of their alleged cannibalism and drug abuse. Two other Nigerians were assaulted the next day, by three masked men who had arrived on a motorcycle, in front of a private hostel. The Association of African Students in India later alleged a third attack and uploaded a video on WhatsApp of an African man being beaten by a mob, apparently in a Noida mall.