• Tuesday, May 28, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Sam Pitroda resigns from Congress after racist remarks

His controversial remarks spurred the ruling BJP to label the party “racist”

Sam Pitroda.

By: Pramod Thomas

SAM PITRODA resigned as the chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress on Wednesday (8) after his controversial remarks on diversity in India spurred the ruling BJP to label the party “racist”.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on X that party chief Mallikarjun Kharge accepted Pitroda’s decision.

“Sam Pitroda has decided to step down as chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress of his own accord. The Congress president has accepted his decision,” Ramesh said in his post.

In a podcast interview, Pitroda said, “We have survived 75 years in a very happy environment where people could live together, leaving aside a few fights here and there. We could hold the country as diverse as India together. Where people in the east look like the Chinese, people in the west look like the Arabs, people in the north look like, maybe, white and people in the south look like Africans.”

“It does not matter. All of us are brothers and sisters. We respect different languages, different religions, different customs, different food,” he said.

The Congress swiftly distanced itself from Pitroda’s comments after the remarks went viral, triggering a political firestorm.

Earlier in the day, Ramesh, in a post on X, said, “The analogies drawn by 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.”

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s party, however, latched on to Pitroda’s remarks to hit out at the Congress and said the opposition party is getting increasingly unmasked as the polls progress in the country.

It claimed that Pitroda’s “racist” comments have betrayed the Congress’s bid to divide the country on the lines of race, religion and caste.

BJP also dismissed the Congress’s stand as meaningless as it cited Pitroda’s close association with the Gandhi family and launched a blistering attack.

In the podcast interview to a media house, Pitroda said, “As a Gujarati, I love dosa, I love idli. That is my food, that is no longer south Indian food. That is the India I believe in, where everybody has a place and everybody compromises a little bit…. That idea of India, which is rooted in democracy, freedom, liberty, fraternity, is being challenged by the Ram temple and Ram Navami and the prime minister going to temples all the time and talking not as a national leader, but as a leader of the BJP.

“That view centres around the Ram temple, god, history, heritage, Bhagwan Hanuman, Bajrang Dal and all kinds of issues. I respect their view.”

Pitroda said, “There is another group which says our founding fathers fought against the British Raj not for a Hindu Rashtra, but for a secular nation. Pakistan decided to create a nation based on religion and see what happened to them. We are a shining example of democracy in the world,”

At his rallies in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Modi said he is livid with the racial profiling of Indians by the US-based “philosopher and uncle of shehzada (Rahul Gandhi)“, and linked the Congress’ opposition to Droupadi Murmu’s presidential bid to its mindset, which saw her as an “African” because of her dark skin.

He asked the Congress chief ministers of Karnataka and Telangana, Siddaramaiah and A Revanth Reddy respectively, if they will accept “such an accusation”.

He also asked if Tamil Nadu chief minister M K Stalin will snap the DMK’s ties with the Congress for Tamil pride. “Do they have the guts?” he asked.

Other BJP leaders also condemned the remarks. At the press conference, Indian minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar cited Pitroda’s long association with the Gandhi family, and said, When a senior Congress leader uses such language, it reveals the mindset of the party’s leadership, which is grounded in divisiveness, racism and ignorance.

BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi said the Congress is getting more and more unmasked as the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls progress and the central issue is no longer election but India’s existence.

In a post on X, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “I am from South India. I look Indian! My team has enthusiastic members from northeast India. They look Indian! My colleagues from west India look Indian! But, for the racist who is the mentor of Rahul Gandhi we all look African, Chinese, Arab and the White! Thanks for revealing your mindset and your attitude. INDI alliance’s shame!”

Earlier, the Congress leader had stirred up a controversy by talking about the inheritance tax, which the BJP later turned into a poll issue.

(PTI)

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