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Choose words carefully, Congress tells Shashi Tharoor over ‘Hindu Pakistan’ remark

Congress spokesperson said the party represents India’s civilisational values of pluralism, diversity. All Congress leaders must realise this historic responsibility while choosing words to reject BJP’s hatred.

india Updated: Jul 12, 2018 21:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Shashi Tharoor,Bharatiya Janata Party,Hindu Pakistan
Shashi Tharoor(File photo)

The Congress on Thursday distanced itself from party leader Shashi Tharoor’s remarks that if voted to power again, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will rewrite the Constitution and pave the way for creation of a “Hindu Pakistan”, a comment he stood by even after facing flak from the ruling party.

The BJP demanded an apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi for Tharoor’s “attack on Indian democracy and Hindus”.

The Congress expressed its disapproval and cautioned its leaders to exercise restraint in their responses to the BJP’s “hatred-filled” statements and actions.

“We appeal our leaders and workers to exercise restraint, caution, and carefully choose their words and statements. And we should remember that our party stands for a pluralistic multi-cultural, multi-faith society… That makes us different from the BJP,” Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill told reporters.

Irrespective of the government that comes to power, Indian democracy will never allow the country to become Pakistan, he said.

Shergill’s views were echoed by the party’s head of the communication department, Randeep Singh Surjewala. “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 BJP’s hatred,” he tweeted.

The disapproval came soon after union information and broadcasting minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, hit out at Tharoor, calling his remarks “pure hallucination”.

His party colleague Sambit Patra termed the remarks as 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 (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi and the BJP, and in doing so, it assaults Indian democracy,” he told reporters.

“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 mouth, they speak this way,” he said.

Addressing an event at Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday, Tharoor said, “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 and write a new one.”

Tharoor, a Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, added, “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.”

Unfazed by the controversy, a combative Tharoor defended himself in a Facebook post, insisting that the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s idea of a Hindu Rashtra was the “mirror image” of Pakistan.

In his post, 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.

“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 wrote.

First Published: Jul 12, 2018 16:01 IST