US-based Congress leader Sam Pitroda’s racist remarks provided the perfect fodder for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of other BJP leaders to mount a frontal attack on the Opposition Party on Wednesday for “insulting” Indians on the basis of their skin colour. At an election rally, Modi said: “Now I understand why the Congress keeps insulting President Droupadi Murmu... just because she is dark-skinned.”

Pitroda, an advisor to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, had said: “We have survived 75 years in a very happy environment where people could live together, leaving aside a few fights here and there. We could hold the country as diverse as India together. Where people in the east look like the Chinese, people in the west look like the Arabs, people in the north look like, maybe, white and people in the south look like Africans.”

The Congress immediately distanced itself from Pitroda’s statement with the party’s media cell in-charge Jairam Ramesh saying: “The analogies drawn by Pitroda to illustrate India’s diversity are most unfortunate and completely unacceptable. The Indian National Congress completely disassociates itself from these analogies and comments.” Within the hour, the Congress announced that Pitroda had stepped down as chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress.

But the PM had already lapped it up. Speaking at a campaign rally in Rajampet of Andhra Pradesh, the PM said, “I do not get angry if someone abuses me. Today, the philosopher of ‘Shehzada’ (prince) has inflicted such a big abuse that I am full of anger. Will people’s abilities in our country be decided by the colour of their skin? Who has allowed the Shehzada to play this game of skin?


Attacking the “divisive” mind of the Congress, Modi also wondered if a key ally of the national party, the DMK, will snap ties with Congress on Pitroda hurting Tamil culture and pride. Similarly, he also sought to know from Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh CMs if this unpardonable remark was acceptable to them.

“A big leader has displayed the divisive mindset of Congress. What the man very close to the Gandhi family and the biggest advisor of Shehzada said is very shameful,” Modi emphasised.

“Congress feels those in north eastern India look like Chinese. Can the country accept things like this? Congress feels people in the south look like Africans, will they accept this,” he asked on Pitroda’s prejudiced remarks.

At a press conference, Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar cited Pitroda’s long association with the Gandhi family and said he is explaining Sonia Gandhi’s and Rahul Gandhi’s idea of India. “When a senior Congress leader uses such language, it reveals the mindset of the party’s leadership, which is grounded in divisiveness, racism and ignorance,” Chandrasekhar alleged.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “I am from South India. I look Indian! My team has enthusiastic members from northeast India. They look Indian! My colleagues from west India look Indian! But, for the racist, who is the mentor of Rahul Gandhi, we all look African, Chinese, Arab and White! Thanks for revealing your mindset and your attitude. INDI Alliance’s shame!”