Casteism
“We respect you Birlaji not because you are a Brahmin but because you are our Speaker in Lok Sabha,” hit out Congress leader Kapil Sibal and others.

A casteist comment by Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla at a September 8 meeting in Kota has gone viral, prompting calls for his resignation. “Brahmins have always held a high position in society. This position is a result of their sacrifice and penance. This is the reason that the Brahmin society had always played a guiding role in society,” Birla tweeted, as part of snippets that were tweeted from an event at the Akhil Brahmin Mahasabha in Kota.

In addition to this, during his speech, he said, “...even today if just one Brahmin family lives in a village or a hutment, then that Brahmin family always holds a high position due to its dedication and service…hence, when they are born, they are held in high regard in society.”

Birla has received criticism from all quarters for his comment. Senior Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal said that the mindset behind the comment made by Birla was the one that “caters to a caste ridden unequal India”. 

“We respect you Birlaji not because you are a Brahmin but because you are our Speaker in Lok Sabha,” he added. 

Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani said that it was condemnable and called it “cringe-worthy”.

“It's a joke on us that a casteist like him is our Loksabha speaker.  He should publicly apologise for this attitude,” he said. 

Birla’s statement was also condemned by the CPI(M).

“Speaker of Lok Sabha making such statements shows the Manuvadi, Castetist mentality of the organisation he belongs to. CPI(M) condemns the statement made by the Lok Sabha speaker in strongest possible word,” the party said.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi said that we can’t live in a country where one country is superior to the others.

“Sir with due respect, Constitution promises Justice, Equality & Fraternity to all. As Babasaheb said, unless there’s fraternity & respect towards fellow humans ‘liberty will produce the supremacy of the few over many’. We can’t live in an India where one caste is superior to others,” he said.

The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) also took a note of Birla’s comments. The Rajasthan unit of the PUCL reportedly said: “We strongly condemn this statement. One, it is against Article 14 of the Constitution to establish the domination of any community, to declare any community as superior to other communities. This, in a way, gives sense of inferiority to other communities. Encourages casteism”.

Tamil Nadu MLA Karti Chidambaram termed the remark “despicable”.

Many on Twitter also condemned the Lok Sabha speaker’s remark, calling his comment “unacceptable” and “shameful”.