March 23, 2021 5:18:19 am
The Opposition Congress cornered Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel in the Gujarat Assembly on Monday over his alleged “anti-tribal” remarks while he defended the Gujarat government over allegations that the Covid situation worsened in the state first owing to the ‘Namaste Trump’ event last year and then the cricket matches at Narendra Modi Cricket Stadium in Ahmedabad recently.
Defending the state government while saying that Covid cases are being reported from other parts of the country as well, Patel posed a question to a Congress tribal MLA which was objected by the Congress MLAs.
This exchange was in the House during the general discussion on budgetary demands of departments like Health & Family Welfare, Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply & Kalpsar and Roads & Buildings.
In their speeches on health and family welfare, some Congress MLAs had alleged that owing to the ‘Namaste Trump’ event and the cricket matches at Narendra Modi Stadium, which were open to the public, Gujarat witnessed a surge in cases of Covid-19 first in 2020 and also over the past few weeks.
In his reply, Patel said, “Coronavirus is a cause of worry for entire world. We make political comments that it (Covid-19 surge) happened because of (then US President Donald Trump)Trump’s arrival [last year], because cricket matches were played…But, Maharashtra is having more cases than us daily in thousands. But I do not want to criticise it. There could be more cases there because of the circumstances there. We do not have any reason to criticise that something happened because of a certain thing.”
“(Congress) criticised cricket matches. I want to ask that cricket matches were there in Ahmedabad, in Narendrabhai Modi Stadium. Then cases are being reported more in Surat. Cases are there in Rajkot and other districts…,” he added. With these comments from Dy CM Patel, Congress MLAs started raising their voices; Vansda MLA Anant Patel was one of them.
Then, Deputy CM Patel looked at Anant and posed a question.
The comments made in the question were objected by deputy leader of the Congress in the House Shailesh Parmar who among other things said, “This is an insult of the (tribal) community.” With this, the House flared up with Congress MLAs raising their voice to protest Dy CM Patel’s comments.
The Deputy CM tried to defend his remarks and then alleged that the Congress had always been dividing people through casteism.
However, Parmar alleged that the Dy CM had been making such “insulting references to the tribal community” and its MLAs in the House.
Congress tribal MLA from Mandvi constituency Anand Chaudhari also said, “Earlier, Nitinbhai had said that you (Congress) had used tribals only for dancing and singing.”
Amid the din, Speaker Rajendra Trivedi tried to put the House in order while saying that all tribals are our brothers.
However, Chaudhari came towards the Well of the House in protest and then walked out. Other Congress tribal MLAs including Sukhram Rathva, Punabhai Gamit, Anant Patel, Anil Joshiyara etc. also walked out of the House in protest against the comments from Dy CM Patel.
Amid the round of heated exchanges, Leader of Opposition Paresh Dhanani said, “The state government should be ashamed that 70000 people were gathered in the stadium (in the times of Covid-19 pandemic).”
To this, Patel retaliated, “Don’t force me to say that you were instigating Patels, Thakors…Without dividing people, what else Congress has done?” “Maharashtra is getting 45000 cases. Go and give advice there. Go an advice there where Rs 100 crore are being extorted. Rs 100 crore per month…,” Patel added.
Patel also kept saying that his comments were not meant to insult any community.
Among all this, Parmar demanded to remove Patel’s comments related to tribals from the record of the House. Dy CM Patel also agreed to let the comments be removed from the record. The Speaker then asked to remove Dy CM Patel’s comments from the record. Dy CM Patel then continued his speech. He eventually concluded his speech saying, “I have spoken adivasi word innocently and yet, if someone’s feelings are hurt then I regret it.”
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