Kolkata, Jan 24 : Coming down heavily on BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya for linking consumption of 'poha' (flattened rice) with Bangladeshi infiltrators, West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Friday wondered whether those making such remarks about food habits of poor people qualify as humans.
"Those who pass such comments about Bengal's culture and tradition, and about the food bits of the impoverished people, it has to be seen how far they qualify as humans," Trinamool Secretary General Partha Chatterjee told media persons here.
Chatterjee said Vijayvargiya and other such leaders in BJP have no credibility or importance.
"They have no credibility, no importance. So long they continue to make such remarks, people of Bengal will denounce them and strengthen the hands of (state Chief Minister) Mamata Banerjee in protest," he said.
Chatterjee, who is also the state Education Minister, said the comments prove that none of the BJP leaders had any knowledge of Bengal's culture and tradition.
In a bizarre statement on Thursday while speaking at a seminar in his hometown Indore, Vijayvargiya claimed labourers who recently carried out construction work at his house could be Bangladeshis as they had "strange" eating habits. And what's that? Eating only 'poha' (flattened rice).
"When a new room was being added at my house recently, I found eating habits of some of the workers 'strange' as they were eating only 'poha' (flattened rice)", he said.
To confirm his suspicion, the BJP leader spoke to the supervisor, he claims.
"I suspected these workers were residents of Bangladesh. Two days after I became suspicious, they stopped working at my house. I have not filed any police complaint yet. I only mentioned this incident to warn people," he alleged.
Vijayvargiya's comments have led to howls of protest from political opponents, and sparked off a massive debate on Twitter with many users pointing out consumption of 'poha' cannot be an yardstick for someone's nationality.
CPI-M politburo member Mohammad Salim said the comment was yet another attempt to throw haywire the democratic, secular structure and social amity that prevails in the country.
"Instead, these people want a racial democracy. This is called racial profiling. Poeple's food habits, attire, language and dialect - everything is being used to serve political interest, and MPs, ministers and even the Prime Minister is doing this. They are trying ro divide the country between 'people like us' and 'people not like us'." Assailing Vijayvargiya, Salim said "when he claims that those eating poha are Bangladeshis, that only shows that he has never seen the poor people eat".