Charging the BJP leader Tarun Vijay with intending “to divide the country”, the Opposition in Lok Sabha demanded Monday that he be booked for sedition for his controversial remarks on south Indians. Vijay had told Al Jazeera last week that Indians cannot be called racist because they live with “black people” from the southern states. “An FIR should be registered for sedition,” Congress floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge demanded during zero hour. “He wants to divide the country. Therefore, anti-national section should be applied.” Kharge said B R Ambedkar “had said in 1949 that if you continue such things, then one day we will lose our Independence and freedom and again we will become slaves”. “The government is moving towards that,” Kharge said. He threatened to agitate “not only inside the House, but also outside” unless the government disclosed what action it was going to take.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar sought to calm the Opposition. “India is a secular country,” Rajnath said, declaring there would be no discrimination based on caste, creed, colour and religion. Vijay has “already said that his remarks are indefensible”, Rajnath pointed out.
“The home minister’s reply was not satisfactory,” Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy said, pointing out “he did not say whether an FIR would be lodged”. The Opposition forced three adjournments, their slogans including “Modi sarkar jawab do, jawab do” and “We want FIR”.
Earlier, Ananth Kumar said during question hour, “I would request my Congress friends not to interrupt a south Indian [MoS Nirmala Sitharaman] when she is answering”. Agitating Congress members, however, forced an adjournment.
Later, Mahajan promised to allow Kharge to speak during zero hour. Question hour resumed; meanwhile, Sonia Gandhi entered.
Kharge mounted his attack: “I want to ask whether we are Indians or not, because he has himself said that we are living with blacks.” He sought to know what action the government proposes against Vijay, who is “not an ordinary person”, being a former Rajya Sabha member, a former editor of Panchjanya, and author of many books propagating the BJP ideology.
Calling Vijay’s remarks “a threat” to national unity, Kharge told the government: “This shows how your ideology is working. Do you want to divide India? Do you want to separate us? Do you want that each state assert its independence?… This shows the government itself is backing such ideologies.”
Kharge compared Vijay to the likes of Adolf Hitler. About the apology, he said: “After abusing, after insulting, after humiliating you say ‘sorry’. What is ‘sorry’?”
Later, Ananth Kumar said the BJP was of the view that “we all are Indians… we are all one”. “Khargeji,” he said, “please don’t try to create differences… One India, great India.”