'By Bengali I meant illegal Bangladeshi and Rohingya': Paresh Rawal issues apology amid row over comment
New Delhi/IBNS: Actor-politician Paresh Rawal has sparked a huge controversy with his remarks on Bengalis while campaigning in Gujarat for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
At a rally, he said the people of Gujarat would tolerate inflation but not "Bangladeshis and Rohingya" next door.
He also used a "cooking fish" stereotype comment that has incensed Bengalis. Responding to a huge backlash, he apologised on Friday but made it worse.
"Gas cylinders are expensive, but their price will come down. People will get employment too. But what will happen if Rohingya migrants and Bangladeshis start living around you, like in Delhi? What will you do with gas cylinders? Cook fish for the Bengalis?" Paresh Rawal said on Tuesday in Valsad, which voted in the first phase of the Gujarat election on Thursday.
"Gujarat people can tolerate inflation but not this ... The way they deliver verbal abuses. A person among them needs to wear diaper on his mouth."
The actor was apparently aiming at Arvind Kejriwal, whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), rules the capital city.
Many saw it as "hate speech" attacking Bengalis. Others described it as "xenophobic dog-whistling" against the Bangladeshi and Rohingya.
"Bengalis don't need you to "cook fish" for them. Remember you too have made your career in Maharashtra where we lovingly fed you dhokla & fafda. Withdraw & apologize for these despicable remarks you made against Bengal on orders of BJP in Gujarat," said Saket Gokhale, spokesperson of Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress.
Mr. @SirPareshRawal:— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) December 2, 2022
Bengalis don’t need you to “cook fish” for them.
Remember you too have made your career in Maharashtra where we lovingly fed you dhokla & fafda.
Withdraw & apologize for these despicable remarks you made against Bengal on orders of BJP in Gujarat.@GargaC pic.twitter.com/JkDZF5A1eY
After facing flak on social media, Paresh Rawal wrote an apology post but ended up aggravating the row by claiming that he meant "illegal Bangladeshis and Rohingya" when he used the word "Bengalis".
"Of course the fish is not the issue as Gujaratis do cook and eat fish. But let me clarify - by Bengali I meant illegal Bangladeshi and Rohingya. But still if I have hurt your feelings and sentiments, I do apologise (sic)," he posted.
He had replied to a user demanding his clarification: "Fish shouldn't have been the topic. He needs to clarify."
of course the fish is not the issue AS GUJARATIS DO COOK AND EAT FISH . BUT LET ME CLARIFY BY BENGALI I MEANT ILLEGAL BANGLA DESHI N ROHINGYA. BUT STILL IF I HAVE HURT YOUR FEELINGS AND SENTIMENTS I DO APOLOGISE. 🙏 https://t.co/MQZ674wTzq— Paresh Rawal (@SirPareshRawal) December 2, 2022
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra slammed the actor and derided him for the ill-advised "apology".
"Actually Kemchho Slapstickman need not have apologised. The second part of Cook Fish like Bengalis is "Have Brains like Bengalis" Most nobel laureates than any other Indian state, buddy boy," the Trinamool MP wrote.
Left leader Mohammed Salim has filed a case with the Kolkata Police over Paresh Rawal's comments.