Patra, known for his controversial statementsagainst his party’s political rivals, was taking part in a debate on the controversy surrounding the surgical strikes on Aaj Tak channel, where he said, “Joote Maaro Rahul ko, Joote Maaro Rahul Ko. (Beat up Rahul Gandhi with shoes).”
Patra’s insulting comments and call for violence against the leader of India’s principal opposition party had angered the Congress spokesperson Rajeev Tyagi, who decided to stage an impromptu protest inside the Aaj Tak studio. Tyagi demanded an apology from Patra, who refused to show any sign of remorse for his distasteful statement. Instead, he responded, “Rahul Gandhi must apologise.”
However, on Saturday, Aaj Tak quoted the BJP spokesperson as saying, “I wanted to say that traitors must be thrashed with shoes. But, I ended up saying accidentally that Rahul Gandhi should be beaten up with shoes. I regret uttering some bad words for the Congress president. Although, the Congress should also not have called PM Modi (Mughal emperor) Aurangzeb.”
Patra’s comments came amidst a loud call for his ouster from the BJP as journalists and commentators took to social media to express their ouster. Many argued that the saffron party ought to have emulated its rival Congress after the latter suspended its senior leader, Mani Shankar Aiyar, last year for his ‘neech (lowly) remarks targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Former Gujarat IPS Officer Sanjiv Bhatt wrote, “RAHUL GANDHI KO JOOTEY MARO” ~ Sambit Patra of BJP, on Live TV The fear is turning to psychotic paranoia.” Journalist Arfa Khanum Sherwani wrote, “It was expected from Congress party to take action against Manishankar Aiyar when he used the improper language. And they did. Why no one is expecting or asking for Sambit Patra’s expulsion from BJP? What does it say about the ‘Sanskar’ of this party?” Another journalist, Kunal Purohit, tweeted, “That people like Sambit Patra and the Uttarakhand CM behave the way they do shows how the BJP bringing the discourse down to the gutter has full support of the two men running the party.”
What was even more worrying that the audience taking part in the Aaj Tak debate cheered as Patra called for Rahul Gandhi’s public assault.