Pitroda resigns as Chairman of Indian Overseas Congress

07:57 PM May 08, 2024 | PTI |

Congress leader Sam Pitroda on Wednesday resigned as the Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress after his controversial remarks spurred the BJP to label the party ”racist”.


Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on X that party chief Mallikarjun Kharge has accepted Pitroda’s decision.

”Mr Sam Pitroda has decided to step down as Chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress of his own accord. The Congress President has accepted his decision,” Ramesh said in his post.

The development came after Pitroda’s choice of ethnic and racial identities like Chinese, Arabs, Whites and Africans at a podcast to describe how Indians from different parts of the country look triggered a political firestorm. The Congress swiftly distanced itself from his words, calling the remarks ”most unfortunate and unacceptable”.

With campaigning in full swing ahead of the fourth phase of polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the BJP’s all-out attack on the Congress on Pitroda’s analogy and asserted that people will not tolerate the attempt to insult them on the basis of their skin colour.


At his rallies in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, Modi said he is livid with the racial profiling of Indians by the US-based ”philosopher and uncle of ‘Shehzada”’, and linked the Congress’s opposition to Droupadi Murmu’s presidential bid to its mindset, which saw her as an ”African” because of her dark skin.

As the row erupted, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said on X: ”The analogies drawn by Mr Sam Pitroda in a podcast to illustrate India’s diversity are most unfortunate and unacceptable. The Indian National Congress completely dissociates itself from these analogies.” Ramesh later announced Pitroda’s decision to resign and that the Congress president has accepted it.

The BJP dismissed the Congress’s disassociation with the controversial comments as it noted at a press conference that Pitroda has a history of making ”insulting and demeaning” comments, including on terrorism and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

His ”hua to hua” (so what) reaction to a question on the 1984 communal violence and ”it happens all the time” reference to the Pulwama terror attack, both in 2019 as the country was gearing up for the general election, had also triggered massive rows.

Earlier during the campaign, Pitroda’s reference to inheritance tax in the United States as an ”interesting law” while discussing the Congress’s Lok Sabha poll manifesto was latched onto by the BJP to accuse the opposition party of eying citizens’ assets as part of its ”redistribution of wealth” policy.


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