Leno showed a picture of the Golden Temple and joked that it was the summer home of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Following online protests from Sikhs in America, India’s Overseas Affairs Minister Vyalar Ravi called for the US government to look into the issue, saying, “The Golden Temple is the Sikh community’s most sacred place. If Jay Leno wanted to joke about it, he should have first cleared it with our Prime Minister, who is himself a Sikh.”
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that President Barack Obama is not considering taking action against Leno, noting that “his comments are constitutionally protected in the United States under free speech.” But she quickly added that Obama did not find the joke funny at all and generally preferred Letterman to Leno.
But the U.S. response did not satisfy the Indian government. Sources say that Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has met with Defense Minister A.K. Antony to discuss the logistics of going to war against the United States.
“It’s a very serious issue,” an informed source said. “Obama should have condemned Leno and instructed NBC to cancel his show. But perhaps the president is being very strategic. He knows that Americans always re-elect a president during a time of war.”
While some military analysts question whether India can wage a war against the United States, others point out that the U.S. has already spent billions of dollars fighting in Iraq and would be reluctant to commit to another costly war.
“I think they’re going to have to appease India in some way,” said David McDouglas, a writer for MilitaryNews.com. “I’m not sure what that will involve. Perhaps Obama will have to make a pilgrimage to the Golden Temple.”
He noted that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had to do something similar last year, after comedian Russell Peters said that Bollywood movies are “all garbage” and Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai “is the biggest example of bad acting.”
“To appease India, do you know what Harper did?” McDouglas asked. “He sat through an entire Bollywood movie! Anything to prevent a war against India.”
Mitt Romney, meanwhile, told a group of reporters in Florida that he has several summer homes, but the Golden Temple isn’t one of them. “Nice place,” he said. “I love the architecture and the color scheme. I’ve already told my real estate broker, ‘If it ever goes on sale, snap it up.’”