NEW DELHI: Former BJP MP Tarun Vijay today faced accusations of racism after he appeared to suggest that Indians cannot be called racist as they live with black people hailing from the southern states of the country.
On a TV programme to defend India against the charge of racism following attacks on African students, he said, "We have blacks, black people around" and asked, "If we were racist, why would we have the entire south?"
His controversial comments triggered a backlash, especially on social media, forcing him to tender an apology on Twitter.
"If we 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," he said on air.
Vijay, a former editor of RSS-affiliated weekly Panchjanya, claimed that people with African ancestors have been living amicably in Maharashtra and Gujarat.
He also said Indians worship black gods and referred to Lord Krishna.
Faced with criticism, he said his words were perhaps not enough to convey what he wanted to say.
"Feel bad, really feel sorry, my apologies to those who feel I said different than what I meant.
"I feel the entire statement was this; we have fought racism and we have people with different colour and culture, and still never had any racism."
He, however, claimed that he never called south India as black.
"I never, never, even in a slip, termed south India as black. I can die but how can I ridicule my own culture, my own people and my own nation? Think before you misinterpret my badly framed sentence," he tweeted in response to accusations of racism.