New Delhi: Congress leader P Chidambaram today took a swipe at BJP leader Tarun Vijay for his remarks against south Indians, asking whether BJP-RSS members were the only Indians in the country. "When Tarun Vijay said 'we live with blacks', I ask him who is 'we'? Was he referring to BJP/RSS members as the only Indians?," he asked on Twitter.
Chidambaram hails from Tamil Nadu and has been a former Finance and Home Minister. Vijay had yesterday kicked up a racism row after he appeared to suggest that Indians cannot be called racist as people live with those from south India who are "black". Vijay's controversial comments during a panel discussion on an international news channel had sparked an outrage with the Congress saying it was shocking while the DMK said it was funny. Seeking to defend India against the charge of racism following attacks on African students, he had 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". Facing an all-round backlash, especially on social media, the former editor of Panchjanya, a RSS-affiliated weekly, had later tendered an apology on Twitter. BJP spokesperson Shaina N C had said that Vijay could have phrased his comments differently. Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge had said the comments showed the saffron party's tendency to discriminate among people of the country. Vijay had claimed that people with African ancestors have been living amicably in Maharashtra and Gujarat. He had also said Indians worship black gods and referred to Lord Krishna.
Faced with criticism, he had said his words were perhaps not enough to convey what he wanted to say. "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 had later claimed that he never called south India as "black". "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," he tweeted in response to accusations of racism. DMK MP T K S Elangovan said Vijay's comments were funny as not all people in the south India are dark-skinned and cited the example of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa. His party's spokesperson had said that his comments offered a glimpse of a divide between north India and south India.