BJP leader Tarun Vijay's remarks echo in Lok Sabha; Congress demands sedition charge
The purported racial remarks by BJP leader Tarun Vijay echoed in the Lok Sabha on Monday with a united Opposition seeking stringent action against the former BJP MP.
Congress said the BJP leader was "spelling out his party's ideology" in his controversial remarks on south Indians and demanded that a case of sedition be registered against him.
Raising the matter during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge said that the remarks came from someone who is "not an ordinary person."
Remarks part of BJP ideology, says Congress
Wanting to know what action would be taken against Vijay, the Congress leader said he was a former Rajya Sabha member and has also written many books on BJP philosophy.
"He has been editor of RSS mouthpiece Panchjanya and has written various books and numerous columns in various newspapers explaining his party's ideology," Kharge said.
"Tarun Vijay was spelling out his party's ideology and the government should file an FIR against their leader for violating Article 15 of the Constitution," Kharge said, adding that India is a secular country, "but some parties with such ideologies" are indulging in these acts.
"They are creating problems for the entire country. Today they seek apology after humiliating, insulting." Kharge said recalling Bhimrao Ambedkar's words from a 1949 speech warning "We will be slaves again".
Kharge wondered whether the people from South India were not Indian citizens.
"I want to know whether we are Indians or not... Are we not citizens (of India)," Kharge said during Zero Hour.
Kharge demands sedition charge against Tarun Vijay for 'anti-national' remarks
His remarks are a "threat" to the unity of the country and "you want to divide this country", Kharge said, adding that if such things go on, then states would start asserting for independence.
This "shows your mentality", he said as he sought to compare them to the likes of Hitler and condemned the remarks.
"FIR should be lodged against him (Tarun Vijay). He has talked about breaking the nation. It is anti-national," Kharge said.
"It is dangerous for India's Integrity," said Kharge, likening it with Hitler's ideology.
"An FIR should be registered against him. His remarks are anti-national and divisive. A case of sedition should be filed against him," Kharge demanded.
Saying that attacks on Africans in India had nothing to do with racism, Tarun Vijay told Al Jazeera last week: "If we were racist, why would we have all the entire south... why do we live with them if we are racist. We have black people around us."
Later Vijay apologized. "Feel bad, really feel sorry. My apologies to those who feel (what) I said was different than what I meant."
Earlier, the Congress had given an adjournment motion notice over the issue in the House which was rejected by Speaker Sumitra Mahajan. This agitated the Congress members. They trooped near Speaker's podium and forced repeated adjournments.
No discrimination based on caste, creed, colour and religion: Rajnath Singh
Responding to the issue, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that the former Rajya Sabha MP has already apologised and there is no need to be agitated.
Asserting that "Bharat is a secular country," said there would be no discrimination based on caste, creed, colour and religion. "The individual has already said that his remarks are indefensible", Singh said quoting Vijay.
Since the individual has already apologised, there is no need to raise any more questions about it, the Home Minister said, adding he would not mention the name.
The Home Minister also pointed out that Vijay calls himself the "adopted son of a Tamil mother".
As the protests continued even after Singh's statement, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said "this (House) is not a court."
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar sought to soothe the agitating members saying, "We are all one. The country is one".
After the House met again at 1245 hours, Kumar said the Home Minister has already given the reply and an apology has been tendered by Vijay.
BJP is of the view that "we all are Indians. There is no difference on the basis of colour. We all are one. Congress should not create differences. We are all together".
"Khargeji please don't try to create differences... One India. Great India," he emphasised.
Kumar said that Vijay is neither a spokesperson of the BJP nor its General Secretary.
Earlier during Question Hour, Kumar urged the Opposition to allow Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to respond to the question posed to her in Question Hour, saying she was a minister "from the South".
Dissatisfied with the Minister's response, Opposition members, including from the Congress and the Left, trooped into the Well shouting slogans.
During Question Hour also, the Opposition members raised slogans in the Well.
The Opposition members were heard shouting, 'Modi sarkar jawab do-jawab do (Modi government should respond)', 'Desh ka vibhajan nahin chalega (Won't allow division of country)' and 'We want FIR (against Vijay)'.
With the din continuing during the Zero Hour, the Speaker adjourned the proceedings for over 20 minutes till 1245 hours.
The House was again adjourned till 1350 hours as the protests continued.
There was also a brief adjournment of the House over the issue for 10 minutes till 1120 hours during the Question Hour.