Thiruvananthapuram : Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has kicked up a huge row with his remarks that if voted to power again, the BJP will rewrite the Constitution and pave the way for creation of a “Hindu Pakistan”.
Tharoor’s comments prompted cries for apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi for the “attack on Indian democracy and Hindus”.
“If they have been 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 the 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 the minorities, and that will create a Hindu Pakistan…and that is not what Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and great heroes of freedom struggle fought for,” Tharoor told an event in Thiruvanthapuram yesterday.
A livid BJP came out strongly against Tharoor over his comments, with party spokesman Sambit Patra calling it “extraordinary” as it was an “attack on the Indian democracy and Hindus”.
“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,” he told reporters in the national capital.
Referring to Rahul Gandhi’s “khoon ki dalali remark” on the surgical strikes launched by the Army against terrorists in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), he said the Congress president undermined India’s defence forces.
He also referred to senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s recent remarks about the Army killing more civilians than militants in the Kashmir valley to attack the main opposition party.
“It is shameful to denigrate one’s own country, one’s own country’s 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 mounth, they speak this way,” he said.
A defiant and combative Tharoor took to Facebook to defend his comments, insisting that the BJP and RSS’ idea of a Hindu Rashtra was the “mirror image” 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.”
Tharoor said many proud Hindus like him cherished the inclusive nature of the faith and 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,” the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram wrote.
Launching a tirade against Tharoor, Patra recalled his ‘cattle-class’ remarks, and said he was now “cattle-classing” Indian democracy.
“You call yourself an educated and erudite spokesperson of the Congress. If you want to love Pakistan, do so, but do not display such hatred towards Indians,” he said.
Tharoor had courted a controversy a few years ago when he was a minister at the Centre with his comment on Twitter that he would travel “cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows.”
The comment had followed the then finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s advice to Congress leaders to observe austerity in order to cut down expenditure in the wake of drought in several parts of the country.
Patra said it was an insult to compare India’s democracy to that of Pakistan, which he called “terroristan”, and demanded that the Congress stop “fear-mongering”.
“And you (Shashi Tharoor) compare our democracy to Pakistan’s? Thanks to the Congress party, we have had black patches in our history, such as the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi during which the Constitution was suspended for two years,” he said.
Tharoor, however, got some support from former vice president Hamid Ansari.
“I have not read what he (Tharoor) has said. But he is an educated man, a writer, an MP…and heads Parliament’s committee on external affairs. Whatever he says, he will say after thorough consideration,” Ansari told a TV news channel.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore assailed Tharoor for his “Hindu Pakistan” comments, calling it “pure hallucination”.
“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 infringed our Constitution and freedom of our citizens,” he told another news channel in New Delhi.