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Minister triggers row by Sonia remarks, Congress demands his sack

Giriraj Singh

New Delhi: Union Minister Giriraj Singh has again kicked up a major row with racist remarks asking whether Congress would have accepted Sonia Gandhi’s leadership if she was not white-skinned, comments that were slammed by a furious Congress which asked the Prime Minister to dismiss him and apologise to the nation.

“Had Rajiv Gandhi married a Nigerian woman and if she was not a white-skinned woman, would the Congress have then accepted her leadership?,” he told journalists yesterday.

Various women leaders also attacked Singh, who is Minister of State for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, saying it reflected his racial mindset and attitude towards women.

The Minister, who had courted controversies with remarks during Lok Sabha elections like people opposed to Narendra Modi can go to Pakistan, also mocked Rahul Gandhi’s absence from the political scene and likened it to the “missing Malaysian airliner”.

“Imagine a situation, if Congress was in power instead of us and had Rahul been the Prime Minister, and if for some reason, the PM had disappeared for more than 47 days.

“Absence of Congress Vice President is similar to that of the missing Malaysian airliner that still has not been located. The same way the Congress leader was not present in the budget session. No one in Congress is ready to speak. This is unfortunate for the Congress and a joke for the country,” he told journalists in Hajipur, Bihar, last night.

When asked about his controversial comments, Singh, who was in Delhi today, initially refused to speak to the media. As his remarks snowballed into a major controversy, the BJP leader said if his comments have hurt Gandhi, he regretted them.

“If Soniaji and Rahulji have been hurt by my remarks, I express my regret,” he said even as he maintained that his remarks were “off the record” and suggested that media was blowing it out of proportion.

Singh is not the first minister or a BJP leader to make controversial remarks that have caused embarrassment to the Modi government.

Parliament was rocked during the winter session by communal comments of minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyothi during the Delhi elections that was disapproved by the prime minister. The party also had to distance itself from similar offensive comments of BJP MPs Yogi Adityanath and Sakshi Maharaj.

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