Facing a huge backlash, Paresh Rawal apologised today.
Actor Paresh Rawal has landed in a huge controversy with his viral comments on Bengalis while campaigning in Gujarat for the ruling BJP.
At a rally, he said the people of Gujarat would tolerate inflation but not "Bangladeshis and Rohingya" next door and used a "cooking fish" stereotype that has incensed Bengalis. Responding to a huge backlash, he apologised today but made it worse.
"Gas cylinders are expensive, but their price will come down. People will get employment too. But what will happen if Rohingya migrants and Bangladeshis start living around you, like in Delhi? What will you do with gas cylinders? Cook fish for the Bengalis?" Paresh Rawal said on Tuesday in Valsad, which voted in the first phase of the Gujarat election yesterday.
"Gujarat people can tolerate inflation but not this ... The way they deliver verbal abuses. A person among them needs to wear diaper on his mouth."
The actor was apparently aiming at Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), rules the capital city.
Many saw it as "hate speech" attacking Bengalis. Others described it as "xenophobic dog-whistling" against the Bangladeshi and Rohingya.
"Bengalis don't need you to "cook fish" for them. Remember you too have made your career in Maharashtra where we lovingly fed you dhokla & fafda. Withdraw & apologize for these despicable remarks you made against Bengal on orders of BJP in Gujarat," said Saket Gokhale, spokesperson of Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress.
After a flurry of angry tweets, Paresh Rawal wrote an apology post but ended up aggravating the row by claiming that he meant "illegal Bangladeshis and Rohingya" when he used the word "Bengalis".
"Of course the fish is not the issue as Gujaratis do cook and eat fish. But let me clarify - by Bengali I meant illegal Bangladeshi and Rohingya. But still if I have hurt your feelings and sentiments, I do apologise (sic)," he posted.
He had replied to a user demanding his clarification: "Fish shouldn't have been the topic. He needs to clarify."
Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra is among those who clapped back at the actor and derided him for the ill-advised "apology".
"Actually Kemchho Slapstickman need not have apologised. The second part of Cook Fish like Bengalis is "Have Brains like Bengalis" Most nobel laureates than any other Indian state, buddy boy," the Trinamool MP wrote.
Left leader Mohammed Salim has filed a case with the Kolkata Police over Paresh Rawal's comments.