Shashi Tharoor was speaking on ‘Threats faced by Indian Democracy and Secularism’ at an event in Thiruvananthapuram. (File)
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has failed to find support from his party for his remark that the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) would turn India into ‘Hindu Pakistan’ if it won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Distancing itself from Tharoor’s controversial remark, the Congress urged its leaders to choose their words carefully while rejecting the hatred being propagated by the saffron party.
Taking to Twitter to clear the Congress’ stance on the issue, which has snowballed into a major controversy, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala indicated the remarks by Tharoor were made in his personal capacity.
Surjewala said India’s values and fundamentals set it apart from the divisive idea of Pakistan. Stressing that it was the Modi government that thrived upon an atmosphere of division, bigotry, and hatred, the Congress leader said his party represented values of pluralism, diversity, and harmony and thus its leaders must realise the responsibility bestowed upon them before making off-the-cuff remarks.
“Modi government thrives upon an unprecedented atmosphere of division, bigotry, hatred, intolerance, and polarisation for last 4 years. Congress, on the other hand, represents India’s civilisational values of pluralism, diversity, compassion, and harmony between faiths and ethnicities. All Congress leaders must realise this historic responsibility bestowed upon us while choosing words and phraseology to reject BJP’s hatred,” Surjewala tweeted.
Speaking on ‘Threats faced by Indian Democracy and Secularism’ at an event in Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor had on Wednesday said if BJP went on to repeat their current strength in the Lok Sabha in 2019, then it would pave the way for tearing up of the Indian Constitution and result in the creation of a ‘Hindu Pakistan’.
Asking Congress workers not to be provoked by the BJP’s “polarising” and “divisive” statements, party spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill charged Prime Minister Narendra Modi for remaining silent on objectionable remarks made by leaders of his party. “The Prime Minister has till date never opened his mouth or given an apology on the objectionable remarks of the BJP leaders which come on every day basis, despite the fact that BJP invites ISI into India, despite the fact that BJP thanks Pakistan for elections in J&K, despite the fact that a BJP minister garlands criminals and rejoice in victory of criminals leading to the loss of Constitution,” Shergill said.
Reacting to Tharoor’s remark, for which BJP has sought an apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi, senior party leader P L Punia said the Constitution in its present form was not acceptable to the BJP and RSS and the saffron party always believed that there should be some changes in the statute. “Shashi Tharoor should explain why he made the remarks but one thing is certain, that the BJP-RSS always believed that there should be some changes to the Constitution. The Constitution, as it is now, is not acceptable to them,” ANI quoted Punia as saying.
Launching a scathing attack on Congress for Tharoor’s remarks, BJP said “such kind of abuses for the Indian democracy” had become the constant feature of the Congress. “By saying Hindu Pakistan you have attacked the democracy of India and the Congress has attacked the Hindus of the country. This is condemnable. This has been the nature of the Congress that while hating Modi, they have crossed all the lines and they start attacking the country,” BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said.
The Congress, Patra said, doesn’t lose any opportunity to demean India and defame the Hindus. “From Hindu terrorists to Hindu-Pakistan the Pakistan appeasing policies of Congress are unparalleled,” he said.
Calling Tharoor’s statement a “hallucination”, Union Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said it was the Congress which had infringed upon the Constitution and freedom of the citizens. “This is pure hallucination by Shashi Tharoor, I think this is withdrawal symptoms of the fact that neither they are in power nor do they see power coming to them again. It’s Congress that has infringed our Constitution&freedom of our citizens,” ANI quoted Rathore as saying.
Despite all the hullabaloo over his remarks, Tharoor refused to retract and defended himself in a Facebook post, saying the BJP-RSS idea of a Hindu Rashtra remained the mirror image of the neighbouring “intolerant theocratic state”. “Pakistan was created as a state with a dominant religion that discriminates against its minorities and denies them equal rights. India never accepted the logic that had partitioned the country. But the BJP-RSS idea of a Hindu Rashtra is the mirror image of Pakistan — a state with a dominant majority religion that seeks to put its minorities in a subordinate place. That would be a Hindu Pakistan and it is not what our freedom movement fought for, nor the idea of India enshrined in our Constitution,” Tharoor wrote on Facebook.