Minister expresses regret over white skin remark against Sonia Gandhi
GN Bureau | April 1, 2015
Nigeria, which just on Tuesday saw a peaceful presidential election, is angry with an Indian minister. What has Nigeria got to do with a minister in India?
Well, in a remark that has been offensive in many ways, union minister Giriraj Singh had asked jocularly whether Sonia's "white skin" had been her ticket to securing the top job in the Congress party. Further, he had queried, "If Rajiv (Gandhi) had married a Nigerian, things would have been different."
Nigerian High Commissioner OB Okongor, said on Wednesday that "given that the minister is at the highest levels of government, the remarks made are unfortunate. India, Nigeria have close ties, such remarks not expected."
Meanwhile, after being blasted for his sexist and racist statement, the minister said on Wednesday that his remarks about Sonia Gandhi were "off the record". He said he does not understand why his remark is being seen as "anti-women" and that he "regrets the comment if it has hurt Sonia or Rahulji."
Singh said he did not make any official statement and a number of things are said off the record.
But a furious Congress was not amused. Prime minister Narendra Modi must dismiss such a minister and apologise to the nation, an AICC statement said. The party said "strongly deprecates and condemns the intemperate and distasteful remarks...Bordering on insanity".
"It appears that continuous quest to appease Prime Minister has made him lose his balance. Such remarks are reflective of lack of moral fibre in BJP and its cadre," the statement said.
"I think Prime Minister Narendra Modi has kept him in the cabinet only to make such statements and probably BJP does not have a better leader for Bihar," senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said.
Another Congress leader Manish Tewari said it was for Modi to reflect as to what kind of "elements and bizarre creatures" are there in his government.
Reacting to Singh's statement, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat termed it as derogatory and in full contempt of working women. "This is racist and I strongly condemn it. How dare he make such racist statements? The entire statement shows the low level of public discourse," Karat said.
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