New Delhi: Former Bhartiya Janata Party (MP) Tarun Vijay while participating in a debate on Al Jazeera TV over the issue of attack on Nigerian students in Greater Noida said Indians cannot be called racist. But, the reason he gave to justify his claim sent shock waves across the nation especially in South India.
"If we (Indians) were racist, why would we have the entire south? Which is you know... completely Tamil, you know Kerala, you know Karnataka and Andhra. Why do we live with them? We have blacks, black people all around us", Tarun Vijay said.
Tarun Vijay's comments sparked an outrage with the Congress saying it was shocking while the DMK said it was funny, according to PTI.
"Vijay's comments are funny as not all people in the south India are dark-skinned and cited the example of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa", DMK MP T K S Elangovan said.
His party's spokesperson however said his comments offered a glimpse of a divide between north India and south India.
Congress leader Khushboo on the other hand said such remarks by the BJP leader were "shocking" and he should have been more careful.
The actress-turned-politician noted that he has worked to promote the Tamil culture.
"This is a country which is secular and does not believe in any colour and here is a party which is trying to give one single colour to it. This is absolutely not acceptable," Khushboo said.
Facing an all-round backlash, especially on social media, the former editor of Panchjanya, a RSS-affiliated weekly, tendered an apology on Twitter.
"I feel the entire statement as this - we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture still never had any racism," Vijay tweeted soon after backlash.
"My words perhaps were not enough to convey this. Feel bad,really feel sorry, my apologies to those who feel I said different than what I meant," he added.
Four Nigerian students were attacked by a group of Greater Noida residents after a 17-year-old boy Manish died due to suspected drug overdose last month. The African envoys had described the attacks as 'xenophobic and racial'.