Rajat Sharma

Gopal Italia should apologize for his crude remarks

AKBToday I want to speak about Gujarat Aam Aadmi Party chief Gopal Italia, who has openly abused and mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 100-year-old mother Hirabai in a video. This will make all of you sad and angry.

Italia had already courted controversy by making objectionable remarks in other videos. In one video, he described Modi as “neech”, and in another video, he had advised women in Gujrat not to go to temples and attend ‘satyanarayan katha’ because, according to him, women are exploited there.

In the latest video, Italia has crossed all limits of decency, by making crass remarks about the PM’s mother, Hira Ba, who is not in politics or public life and has never said anything about anybody in recent years. From India TV, we gave Gopal Italia the chance to respond to this video, but he says, he stands by his remarks.

In this undated video, shot inside a vehicle, Italia is heard saying, “Why are you not asking ‘neech’ Narendra Modi to reveal the expenses of his public meeting. And his mother Hiraba is also doing drama. Modi is nearing 70 years and his mother Hiraba will soon become 100, yet both of them continue with their drama.”

This undated video, tweeted on Friday by Gujarat BJP media convenor Yagnesh Dave in Ahmedabad triggered a barrage of criticisms from BJP leaders.

Union Minister Smriti Irani described Italia as a “guttermouth”. In her tweet addressed to AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, Irani wrote: “Arvind Kejriwal, gutter mouth Gopal Italia now abuses Hira Ba with your blessings. I profer no outrage, I don’t want to show how indignant Gujaratis are, but know this you have been judged and your party shall be decimated electorally in Gujarat. Now the people will deliver justice.”

Italia is the state unit chief of Aam Aadmi Party. He had been taking potshots at Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His abuses against Modi can even be ignored, but using foul words against his 100-year-old mother Hira Ba is condemnable.

In Delhi, BJP Mahila Morcha workers protested outside AAP office, while BJP workers staged protests in Gujarat. They demanded immediate action against Gopal Italia. BJP leaders said, the protests would continue till Kejriwal takes action against his state chief. They said, Italia’s remarks are not against an old lady, but against millions of Indian mothers.

Surprisingly, AAP leaders are trying to indirectly defend Italia. Delhi AAP minister Gopal Rai said, “BJP does not want to give an account of its performance for last 27 years, and is therefore bringing out old videos to divert people’s attention.” He remained silent when he was asked whether it was morally proper for a leader to make such comments against the PM’s 100-year-old mother.

India TV reporter asked Gopal Italia in Rajkot, Gujarat, where the latter had gone to offer prayers at a temple. Instead of replying to questions directly, Italia blamed the BJP. “I have come here to seek the goddess’s blessings for the power to fight BJP’s conspiracies”, he said.

Italia said: “BJP leaders are only worried about Modi’s mother. I also salute Modi’s mother, but my question is: when will BJP leaders take care of the millions of mothers in Gujarat? When will their sons get jobs? Who will provide treatment and pension to the old mothers?”

Our Ahmedabad reporter met women at a residential complex. Most of them said, “a leader who can insult an 100-year-old lady cannot be expected to take care of millions of mothers. Such leaders do not have the right to stay in politics”. Even Congress and RJD leaders in Gujarat have condemned Italia’s comments.

Who is Gopal Italia? He joined Gujarat Police as a constable in 2013 and worked for one year. The next year, he joined the Ahmedabad district collectorate as a revenue clerk, but was dismissed three years later. He became unemployed and joined the Patidar movement. In 2017, he had thrown a shoe at Gujarat Minister of State for Home Pradeep Singh Jadeja. In 2019, he was arrested under Arms Act.

Italia had been meeting people involved in anti-national activities. In 2018, he attended a meeting in Ahmedabad convenued by Shabnam Hashmi’s organisation, and the meeting’s agenda was “Dismantling India: A 4-year report”.

He was involved with outfits which were defaming Gujarat and India. In 2020, he took the membership of Aam Aadmi Party, and in June that year, he was made vice-president of AAP state unit. In December, 2020, he was elevated as president of Gujarat state unit of AAP.

Italia is a serial offender as far as using abusive language in concerned. There is a long list of videos in which he has abused state BJP leaders. In one video, he hurled vile abuses against Home Minister Amit Shah, former CM Vijay Rupani and former state BJP chief Jitu Vaghani.

Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party has two defences about Gopal Italia’s crass remarks. One, most of these videos are old, and the comments were made before he joined AAP. My simple question: Did Kejriwal check the antecedents of a person whom he was appointing as state party president? Everybody knew what Gopal Italia had spoken in the past. Aam Aadmi Party is not the ‘Gangotri’ that will absolve past sins, once somebody joins it.

Kejriwal’s second argument: Gopal Italia is a Patidar and BJP is targeting him because the party hates Patidars. This is a weak defence. Do the Patidars of Gujart call Modi’s mother Hira Ba a ‘dramebaaz’? Do the Patidars of Gujarat call Modi a ‘neech’? What Patidars have to do with such issues? The Patidars of Gujarat will never tolerate such crass acts.

It would have been better had Kejriwal condemned such abusive remarks, and taught his state chief a lesson in decency. Or, at least persuaded him not to make abrasive remarks, and asked him to withdraw all his previous crude comments.

He could have asked Italia to public apologize for his comments and make a fresh beginning in politics, but Kejriwal did not do so. I think the people of Gujarat will never accept such crude behaviour and these vile remarks will ultimately harm Kejriwal.

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