Rajat Sharma


AKB30 A racial remark about Indians made by Sam Pitroda in a podcast sparked nationwide outrage on Wednesday, the Congress dissociated from his comment and Pitroda had to resign as chairman of Indian Overseas Congress. A “political guru” of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Pitroda, sitting in the US, was discussing Indian current affairs on a podcast, when he veered from his path and commented: “We could hold together a country as diverse as India, where people in east look like Chinese, people in west look like Arabs, people in north look like maybe white and people in south look like Africans…it doesn’t matter. We are all brothers and sisters. The idea of India that is rooted in democracy, freedom, liberty, fraternity is being challenged by Ram temple, Ram Navami and the Prime Minister going to temple all the time and talking not as a national leader, but talking as a leader of BJP.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first to hit out at Pitroda. Addressing an election rally in Telangana, Modi said, “Rahul Gandhi has an uncle in America who is a friend, philosopher and guide. For the shehzada (prince), he is like the third umpire in cricket who is approached for final decision. He seeks advice from his uncle. His uncle told him that all persons with black skin are Africans. And Congress voted against President Droupadi Murmu because of her skin colour. The nation will not tolerate such an insult to the people of this great country. ” Congress leaders appeared to be on the defensive after Pitroda’s remark caused nationwide outrage. Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said, the party completely dissociates itself from Pitroda’s analogies. Jairam Ramesh said, “The analogies drawn by Sam Pitroda ina podcast to illustrate India’s diversity are most unfortunate and unacceptable.” Two weeks ago, Pitroda had floated a controversial idea about US-type inheritance tax providing for 50 per cent tax collection from properties owned by those who die. What Pitroda said about the skin colour of Indians is really serious. I am surprised how a person living in the United States can make such a loose comment. To identify an individual on the basis of skin colour or looks is a reflection of poor taste. To describe people as African or Chinese, based on their looks and skin colour is nothing but an insult to Indian heritage. One needs to ponder why “Sam Uncle” makes such controversial comments putting Congress in trouble. Five years ago, “Sam Uncle” while replying to a question on 1984 anti-Sikh riots said, “Hua, Soh Hua” (whatever happened, happened). He also said, “corruption is a way of life”. Once he also said, terrorism does take place, what’s so big about it? Sam Pitroda is known as the adviser of Rahul Gandhi. It is he who plans Rahul Gandhi’s overseas tours and lectures. A leader close to Gandhi family told me once that Sam Pitroda used to teach Rahul Gandhi like a ‘guru’, and this could be the reason why Congress never takes action when he makes outrageous comments. On Wednesday, when Prime Minister Modi made it a big issue in the election, it had its fallout. Sam Pitroda was asked to go, and his resignation as chairman of Indian Overseas Congress was immediately accepted. This time, mere resignation won’t do. “Sam Uncle” has raised questions about the race of Indians and he has hurt their self-pride. This issue is going to hurt the Congress as India goes through four more stages of polling.

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