“Was I Wrong?” BJP MLA Says Boycott Muslim Vegetable Sellers, Defiant
A BJP MLA from Uttar Pradesh caught on camera warning people against buying vegetables from Muslims amid the nationwide coronavirus lockdown, has come under severe criticism. A defiant Suresh Tiwari, an MLA from Deoria, has defended his outrageous comment, saying: “Did I say anything wrong?” In a 14-second clip widely shared on social media, the 74-year-old BJP leader is heard saying in Hindi: “Keep one thing in mind. I am telling everyone openly. There is no need to buy vegetables from ‘Miyas’ (Muslims).” He is making a reference to the vegetable vendors from the Muslim community. The BJP MLA was speaking in his constituency, around 300 km from state capital Lucknow, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke against communalising the pandemic. Asked about the controversy, Suresh Tiwari admitted making the comments last week. “I was in my constituency and I was interacting with a group of 10-12 people. We started having a conversation over the lockdown. I was told that Muslim vendors who are selling vegetables are spitting on them,” he said. “So I told them that I cannot do anything but they should avoid buying from these vendors to make sure that they don’t get coronavirus. When people are asking what to do…. what should an MLA say? Did I say anything wrong? Why make it a big issue?” he asked. Insisting that he saw nothing wrong in his comments, the MLA referenced AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi. “(AIMIM chief Asaduddin) Owaisi says objectionable things about Hindus. No one bothers and an MLA just told people in his constituency something for their benefit and so much of an issue has happened,” he told the reporters at his Deoria home. The clip that shows Mr Tiwari making the remarks has been criticised by many on social media.