Congress leader Shashi Tharoor criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday, a day after its youth wing activists vandalised his office in Thiruvananthapuram, and asked if the saffron party has started a Taliban in Hinduism.
Workers of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha had on Monday protested Tharoor’s remarks on July 11 that India would turn into a Hindu Pakistan if the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government won the 2019 General Elections. The protestors had placed a banner reading “Hindu Pakistan office” outside Tharoor’s office and then struck out “Hindu”. They also laid a wreath at the entrance and demanded that Tharoor leave the country.
The Congress MP also raised the matter in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, the first day of Parliament’s Monsoon Session, and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take action against “extremist right-wingers”. “It wasn’t only an attack on a constitutionally provided office but larger attempt by ruling party to destroy idea of India and accepting pluralism,” Tharoor said. “Agnivesh was also attacked. We shouldn’t stand by as mob lynching and hooliganism rule democracy.”
Later, Tharoor told the media outside Parliament that he will not withdraw any of his remarks. “Instead, those who attacked my office should tender an apology,” the Congress MP said.
“It’s been 24 hours since my office has been attacked and the visuals of those who were all present are also there, but no arrest has been made,” Tharoor had said at a protest march organised by the Congress-led United Democratic Front near the Raj Bhavan in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, IANS reported. But some reports claimed that the Kerala Police arrested five people in connection with the case and that they were released on bail.
The march was organised to protest against the alleged apathetic attitude of the Pinayari Vijayan-led Left Democratic Front government towards several matters in the state.
Tharoor claimed that the BJP was unleashing goons against him. “They [BJP] are asking me to go to Pakistan. Who has given them the right to decide that I am not a Hindu like them and I don’t have the right to stay in the country,” Tharoor asked, according to ANI. “Have they started a Taliban in Hinduism?”
The controversial statement
“If the BJP wins the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, our democratic Constitution, as we understand it, will not survive as they will have all the elements they need to tear apart the Constitution of India and write a new one,” the Thiruvananthapuram MP said on July 11. “That new one will be the one which will enshrine principles of Hindu Rashtra, that will remove equality for minorities, that will create a Hindu Pakistan and that is not what Mahatama Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and great heroes of freedom struggle fought for.”
A Kolkata court has summoned Tharoor on August 14 in connection with the comment.
Later, he wrote on Facebook that the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s idea of a Hindu Rashtra is a “mirror image of Pakistan – a state with a dominant majority religion that seeks to put its minorities in a subordinate place”.