Shashi Tharoor was cautioned today by his party, the Congress, and urged to keep “restraint and caution” following a political row over his comment that the BJP would make India a “Hindu Pakistan” if it came to power in 2019. Speaking to NDTV, Mr Tharoor firmly defended his statement, saying: “Why should I apologise when they enshrine the ideals of a Hindu Rashtra?”
The ruling BJP has reacted with outrage and demanded Mr Tharoor’s apology.
In his lecture on the “Threats faced by Indian Democracy and Secularism” on Wednesday, he had said that there was a “…great danger… that if they (BJP) are able to win a repeat of their current strength in the Lok Sabha, then frankly our democratic constitution as we understand will not survive because they will have all the three elements they need to tear up the Constitution of India and write a new one. That will be a new one which will enshrine the principle of Hindu Rashtra, will remove equality for minorities, that will create a Hindu Pakistan and that isn’t what Mahatma Gandhi, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and great heroes of freedom struggle fought for.”
This morning, he put out a Facebook post saying his statement had been “bizarrely misconstrued” and explained: “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.”
The former union minister told NDTV that neither the BJP nor Prime Minister Narendra Modi had done nothing to change that view: “It is clear that the BJP has stood for a Hindu Rashtra, it is a part of the official ideology of the party. The PM has asked the party to read about the thoughts and ideas of Deen Dayal Upadhyay, who did not believe in the constitution. These leaders believe the constitution and nation should be built for Hindu people. The PM has never said he disagrees with this.”
On the BJP’s demand for Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s apology, the former union minister said this had always been his stand and he had expressed the same view in 2013.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra had said, “Congress was responsible for creation of Pakistan because of its ambitions. Yet again it has gone ahead to demean India and defame Hindus of India.”