Congress urges restraint, BJP demands apology from Rahul.
New Delhi: Defending his “Hindu Pakistan” remarks, former Union minister and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor asserted on Thursday that the BJP-RSS idea of a “Hindu rashtra” was the “mirror image of Pakistan”, as his own party asked its leaders to chose their words more carefully as a livid BJP asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi to apologise over his party colleague’s remarks that it said were an “attack on Indian democracy and Hindus”.
Mr Thraoor, Thiruvan-anthapuram’s MP, had at an event in his parliamentary constituency on Wednesday, courted huge controversy over his remarks that if voted to power again, the BJP would rewrite the Constitution and pave the way for the creation of a “Hindu Pakistan”.
Attacking the Congress leader over his remarks, minister of state for information and broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said: “This is pure hallucination by Shashi Tharoor... I think this is withdrawal symptoms... neither are they in power, nor do they see power coming to them again. It’s the Congress that infringed our Constitution and the freedom of our citizens.”
At an event in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, Mr Tharoor said if the BJP was “able to win a repeat of their current strength in the Lok Sabha, then frankly, our own democratic Constitution, as we understand, will not survive... because then they will have all three elements they need to tear up the Constitution of India and write a new one... And that will enshrine the principle of Hindu rashtra, that will remove equality for minorities, and will create a Hindu Pakistan... That is not what Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and the great heroes of the freedom struggle had fought for”.
Targeting Mr Tharoor’s remarks, BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said it was an “attack on Indian democracy and on Hindus”. He said: “Yet again Tharoor has cattle-classed Indian democracy. The Congress’ character is that it crosses the lakshman rekha (limit) in its hatred for Narendra Modi and the BJP, and in doing so it assaults Indian democracy.” The BJP leader said it was “shameful to denigrate one’s own country, one’s own democracy, to denigrate the Hindu religion time and again”.
“This is a shameful act for which Rahul Gandhi should come out and not only apologise but explain to us why any leader of that party, whenever they open their mouth, speak this way,” Mr Patra added.
In a Facebook post, Mr Tharoor said many proud Hindus like him cherished the inclusive nature of their faith but had no desire to live, as their Pakistani neighbours were forced to, in an intolerant theocratic state. “We want to preserve India, and not turn our beloved country into a Hindu version of Pakistan”.
“I have said this before and I will say it again. 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.”
Reacting to the issue, Congress’ communications chief Randeep Surjewala, in a series of tweets, said: “India’s values and fundamentals are an unequivocal guarantee of our civilisational role and set us apart from the divisive idea of Pakistan... All Congress leaders must realise this historic responsibility bestowed upon us while choosing words and phraseology to reject the BJP’s hatred.”
At the AICC briefing, Congress spokesman Jaiveer Shergill said that irrespective of the government that comes to power, India’s democracy will never allow the country to become another Pakistan. “The Congress advises each of its leaders and workers to exercise restraint, caution, and choose their words and statements wisely. And remember that the Indian National Congress stands for a pluralistic multi-cultural and multi-faith society,” Mr Shergill said.