The Bharatiya Janta Party on Monday criticised Congress MP Shashi Tharoor for stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wears all sorts of “outlandish headgear” but refuses to wear a Muslim skullcap. Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju demanded an apology from the Congress for insulting the tribal and North East people.

“You see him in hilarious Naga head-dress with feathers, various kinds of extraordinary outfits, which is right thing for PM to do...Indira Gandhi has also been photographed wearing various kinds of costumes,” Tharoor said while speaking on “Standing up to hatred: Violence and intolerance in contemporary India” in New Delhi. “Why does he always refuse to wear a Muslim skull cap? Why does he refuse to wear green?”

Modi refused an offer to wear the Muslim skullcap at an outreach programme in 2011 called the Sadhbhavana fast to avoid “appeasement” of minorities. In 2014, he said: “If a cap is a symbol of unity then why Mahatma Gandhi didn’t wear any?”

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore took to Twitter to rebuke Tharoor. “This condescension and arrogance towards the people of India have become hallmarks of the Congress,” Rathore tweeted.

Responding to the criticism, Tharoor said: “Dear Rajyavardhan, you know better. I was obviously referring to the ceremonial headdress offered to visiting dignitaries, not daily wear. But you are sidestepping the point: when PM wears all types of headgear, why does he avoid just one?”

Tharoor’s controversial comments

The Thiruvanathapuram MP has drawn criticism for his comments in the past. On July 17, Tharoor asked if the saffron party has started a Taliban in Hinduism, a day after the BJP’s youth wing activists vandalised his office in Thiruvananthapuram. They were protesting against 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. A Kolkata court had summoned Tharoor on August 14 in connection with the comment.

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”.