New Delhi: BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya received a lot of flak on the internet after his statement that he detected some “Bangladeshis” among construction labourers working at his house because they were eating “only poha” (flattened rice).
The BJP general secretary made this statement at a seminar in support of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in Indore Thursday.
Vijayvargia said the “strange” eating habits of the labourers had aroused his suspicion about their nationality. According to a PTI report, he also spoke about this to the contractor and the supervisor, and said the workers stopped coming to work two days after he expressed suspicion about their nationality.
BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya says some of the labourers carrying out construction work at his house recently were likely to be Bangladeshis as they had "strange" eating habits and were consuming only 'poha' (flattened rice)
— Press Trust of India (@PTI_News) January 23, 2020
Soon after the news spread, Twitter erupted with criticism and witty one-liners, with some even taking jibes at the Narendra Modi government’s idea of a pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC).
— Cifar (@cifarshayar) January 24, 2020
Poha eaters = Bangladeshis
Ab lack of kaagaz nahin, poha will be your undoing 😐 https://t.co/Qbz85Ws5k9
— Poulomi Saha (@PoulomiMSaha) January 24, 2020
Many took jibes at the government for deciding one’s nationality on the basis of food habits.
BJP's Kailash Vijayvargiya has said Poha is a Bangladeshi dish, so I want to know which nationality the following food items represent:
It's clearly an existential question for a lot of people now.
— Meghnad (@Memeghnad) January 24, 2020
Many users also pointed out how poha is a very common, everyday dish consumed for breakfast across states, especially in Maharashtra.
If eating Poha , gets you a tag of being from Bangladesh as per Ch. Kailash Vijayvargiya then almost every guy from our Maharashtra does belong from Bangladesh whose morning doesn't start without Poha and Chai .. pic.twitter.com/q2FLBepPZp
— Niraj Bhatia (@bhatia_niraj23) January 24, 2020
He is questioning the citizenship of poor daily wage laborers just because they eat #poha.
Seriously? 😠 pic.twitter.com/e52hF832n9
— Ankita Roy (@ankitaaaroy) January 24, 2020
Oh so we have already reached the "you eat too much poha so you must be Bangladeshi" stage of branding people? https://t.co/wz9dBCe3J2
— Manu S Pillai (@UnamPillai) January 23, 2020
Twitterati took a dig at Vijayvargiya’s statement by comparing it to the Modi government’s decisions on consumption of beef.
Earlier, Sanghis had a beef with biryani. Now Poha is the new beef.
Soon we'll only drink g@umutra, eat gob@r and raise a toast to Bh@rat M@ta ki J@i.
— Chirpy Says (@IndianPrism) January 24, 2020
First Beef eaters were anti- nationals.
Now Poha eaters are anti- nationals.
At this rate everyone other dish other than Khichdi and Rajma Chawal will be under the scanner. https://t.co/zLrAwtZMcn
— Advaid (@Advaidism) January 24, 2020
From beef to poha- the anti national food list grows with great rapidity
— Ajay Kamath (@ajay43) January 24, 2020
— Saumya Baijal سومیا بیجل (@saumyabaijal) January 24, 2020
Many Twitter users came out in support of poha and said it was part of a normal diet for scores of Indians.
Come to maharashtra and we will give some good #Poha and will teach how you shud respect maharashtrians by respecting #Poha,either bjpee leaders doesnt have brains or they are stupid. Dont insult ppl by their eating habits, or ppl will show you ur place. Eat well, live well india pic.twitter.com/j6FCwVPtDW
— Ashish Somkuor (@ashishsomkuor) January 24, 2020
Thank God ! my husband eats Upma not #Poha .
— Meenakshi Joshi (@IMinakshiJoshi) January 24, 2020
Poha is one of my favorite breakfast options.
No wonder it is anti – national !
What is next?
— Pankhuri Pathak پنکھڑی (@pankhuripathak) January 24, 2020
If eating poha is the criteria, my dad will be an illegal immigrant every day
— Teju (@tejujoshi31) January 24, 2020
Poha is my comfort food. Tagore is my comfort read. Bangla is my comfort language. Guess I start searching for my papers asap. 🙄 https://t.co/OJRwaqHkTl
— Sasidharan Pazhoor (@inquestioner) January 24, 2020
Alt News Co-Founder Mohammed Zubair even shared a November 2019 picture of cricketer-turned-BJP politician Gautam Gambhir eating poha.
— Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear) January 24, 2020
Vijayvargia’s statement comes at a time when the country has been witnessing massive protests against the CAA, with demonstrators citing that the new law is discriminatory in nature against Muslims. CAA makes grant of citizenship easy for six persecuted minorities, barring Muslims, from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who arrived in India before 31 December 2014.
In the seminar Thursday, Vijayvargia also claimed that a Bangladeshi terrorist was keeping a watch on him for the last one and half years. “Whenever I go out, six armed security personnel follow me. What is happening in this country? Will outside people enter and spread so much terror?” he told PTI.
Vijayvargiya had garnered criticism earlier this month too after he said he would have set Indore on fire if a scheduled RSS meet wasn’t under way in the city.
(With inputs from PTI)