A day after Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb landed in a controversy over his comments calling Punjabi and Jat communities ‘less brainy’, Deb Tuesday apologised over social media and said he had only expressed the thoughts of ‘some people’.
Photo: IndianExpress file photo
Speaking at an event organised at Agartala Press Club here two days back, Deb advised journalists to maintain credibility and trust by reporting the truth and asked journos not to fall in the quagmire of fulfilling personal gains. However, Deb soon forayed out of his discussion and went on to comment that every community of India has certain characteristics and said while Bengalees could not be challenged in terms of intelligence, those from Punjabi and Jat communities are known for their physical strength but have less brains.
“It is said none can challenge the Bengalees, when it comes to intelligence. Bengalees are known for their intelligence and it is part of their identity. But when we speak about people of Punjab, we call him a Sardar or a Punjabi. They might have less intelligence but are very strong. No one can win over them by strength but they can be won by love. Many Jats live in Haryana. What do people usually tell about them? Jats have less intelligence but they are very strong. If someone challenges a Jat person, he would bring out a gun from his house,” Deb quipped in what he thought would be a funny comment.
However, his comments soon came in for severe criticism from netizens after Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “Shameful and unfortunate! BJP’s Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Deb has called Sikh brothers from Punjab and Jat community from Haryana ‘less brainy and insulted them. This is BJP’s lowly mindset. Why are Khattarji and Dushyant Chautala silent? Where are Modiji and Naddaji? Apologize, initiate action.”
Facing ire, Deb took to Twitter on Tuesday and wrote, “I mentioned thoughts of some people about my Punjabi and Jat brethren at a programme organised at Agartala Press Club. It was not my intention to hurt any community. I am proud of both Punjabi and Jat communities. I have spent a lot of time among them myself”.
He also explained that many of his closest friends come from these communities and sought forgiveness if his statements hurt the sentiment of any one. “I always salute the contribution of Punjabi and Jat communities in the freedom struggle of our country. I can’t even think about questioning the role these two communities played in progressing India,” the CM tweeted.
However, BJP state spokesperson Subrata Chakraborty tried to put up defense for Biplab Deb and said his comments were ‘unfortunately misinterpreted’. “We have heard since childhood that Bengal thinks today thinks what India thinks tomorrow. The CM didn’t wish to insult any community. He wanted to speak about the diversity of different communities and places which have certain characteristics and unique in certain ways,” he told indianexpress.com.
Biplab Deb’s latest gaffe is one in a long line of controversial comments. Since he assumed office in March 2018, Deb claimed on different occasions that ancient Indians used Internet and artificial satellites in the age of the Mahabharata, he said Gautam Buddha walked (over the sea) to Japan, Miss World Diana Hayden was unworthy of being a beauty pageant winner, Rabindranath Tagore returned Nobel prize, civil engineers make better civil service officials among others.