PM's Retort To Sam Pitroda's Racist Flub, BJP Leaders' 'Look Indian' Posts

Prime Minister Modi launched an all-out attack on the Congress over Sam Pitroda's remarks while addressing a rally in Telangana

PM Modi targeted the Congress over Sam Pitroda's remarks while addressing a rally in Telangana

Warangal (Telangana):

Tearing into the Congress over its veteran leader Sam Pitroda's fresh flub, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today demanded a response from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, saying that the country "won't tolerate disrespect on the basis of the colour of skin".

Mr Pitroda, whose remark on an inheritance tax in the US last month left the Congress red-faced in the election season, came up with a new howler while he was trying to make a pitch for national unity despite India's diversity. In an exclusive interview with The Statesman, Mr Pitroda described India as a "... diverse country... where people on East look like Chinese, people on West look like Arab, people on North look like maybe White and people in South look like Africa".

Pushed into firefight mode, the Congress distanced itself from its senior leader's remark. "The analogies drawn by Mr. Sam Pitroda in a podcast to illustrate India's diversity are most unfortunate and unacceptable. The Indian National Congress completely dissociates itself from these analogies," senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X.

As videos of Mr Pitroda's remarks started doing the rounds on social media, the Prime Minister launched an all-out attack on the Congress at a rally in Telangana's Warangal.

Repeating his "shehzade (prince)" barb for Mr Gandhi, the Prime Minister said, "Shehzade, you will have to answer. The country will not tolerate the disrespect of our countrymen on the basis of the colour of skin. Modi will definitely not tolerate it."

Doubling down, the Prime Minister said he now knows why the Congress opposed the BJP's choice of Droupadi Murmu for the President's post. "I used to wonder why the Congress opposed Droupadi Murmu's candidature in the presidential election, but I could not understand. But now I know why they tried to defeat Droupadi Murmu, an adivasi. An uncle of the shehzaada stays in the US. He is his philosopher and guide. He has said those who have dark skin are from Africa. Now I have understood, they also thought Droupadi Murmu is African. They thought her skin is dark, so she must be defeated," the Prime Minister said.

On his X handle, the Prime Minister said he was "absolutely disgusted by the remarks of the senior Congress leader, who is the friend, philosopher and guide of the Congress' Crown Prince". "His remarks are racist and in very poor taste," the Prime Minister tweeted. 

The BJP came out strongly against the remarks of Mr Pitroda, who heads the Congress's overseas wing. Party spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi told the media that Mr Pitroda's statements "show his ignorance and contempt for the fundamental identity of the country".

Mr Pitroda's racist remarks came when he was speaking about the country's diversity. He referred to a "really divided country today based on ideas of India", and said, "It is not a question of who is right or wrong... but a question of what you believe in."

"... there is another view that says our founding fathers fought the British Raj not for a Hindu nation but for a secular nation. Pakistan decided to make a nation based on religion... you can see how that is going. We are a shining example of democracy in the world. We have survived 70-75 years in a very happy environment, leaving aside a few fights here and there," he said.

"... we are all brothers and sisters, we respect different languages, religions, customs, and food. As a Gujarati, I love dosa. So, if I go to Tamil Nadu and speak the local language, it is ok. I am still at home... that is my India, rooted in democracy, freedom, liberty, and fraternity," he declared. This view, Mr Pitroda said, "is being challenged by one that includes the Ram Temple and Ram Navami and the PM going to temples all the time and talking not as a national leader, but that of the BJP".

Among the BJP leaders who panned the remarks were its Northeast Chief Ministers, Assam's Himanta Biswa Sarma and Manipur's N Biren Singh.

"Sam bhai, I am from the northeast, and I look like an Indian. We are a diverse country - we may look different, but we are all one. Hamare desh ke bare mein thoda to samajh lo! (Please understand at least something about our country)" Mr Sarma posted on X.

"I condemn Congress leader, Sam Pitroida's racist comment against the people of Northeast. The Congress has always tried to divide India with their Divide and Rule policy. But they must know that NE has been a part of India and will always be. Such a mockery in the India's diversity is highly unacceptable @INCIndia and @sampitroda must publicly apologize," Mr Singh said.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, too, slammed Mr Pitroda's remarks. "I am from South India. I look Indian! My team has enthusiastic members from north east India. They look Indian! My colleagues from west India look Indian! But, for the racist who is the mentor of @RahulGandhi we all look African, Chinese, Arab and the White! Thanks for revealing your mindset and your attitude. I.N.D.I alliance's shame!" she posted on X.