Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has triggered a massive war of words with the BJP over a political jibe he directed at Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
At an event in Bengaluru, Tharoor, who has been speaking regularly while promoting his new book which is also based on the Prime Minister, remarked:
"This personality cult (speaking about Narendra Modi) hasn't sat well with many in the RSS establishment. There's an extraordinarily striking metaphor expressed by an unnamed RSS source to the journalist Vinod Jose of The Caravan which I quote here, in which they express their frustration with their inability to curb Mr Modi. And the man says,
"Mr Modi is like a scorpion sitting on a Shivling. You cannot remove with your hand and you can't hit him with a chappal either."
And if you think about it, that's a very very profound understanding of the relationship, because if you remove a scorpion with a hand you'll get stung very badly but if you hit a Shivling with a chappal then you've undermined all the sacred tenets of the faith that <inaudible> the scorpion is sitting on. So ultimately you live with it with seething frustration. That may well be a very interesting clue to the rather complex dynamic that exists between the Hindutva movement and the Moditva expression of it."
Reacting to Tharoor's comments, BJP spokesperson Dr Sambit Patra said, "I just heard the comment, it's so abusive. He's denigrated the Hindu religion by bringing Chappal and Shivling together, and then he denigrates the Prime Minister of India. Is this what the Congress party has sunk to? Everyday Shashi Tharoor comes up with an abuse for the Prime Minister and the Hindu religion."
Dr Patra added, "He knows that he can say anything about the Hindus and against the BJP and Narendra Modi because he knows we're the most tolerant ones. He's trying to buy an extra mile out of our tolerance."
Going on to seek action by the Congress against Tharoor, Dr Patra also raised Rahul Gandhi's recent Kailash-Mansarovar Yatra, saying, "I firmly believe that Mr Shashi Tharoor should apologise and Rahul Gandhi should actively dismiss him. Is this what Mr Rahul Gandhi learnt on his Mansarovar Yatra? Is this the way his party people talk about Lord Shiva?"
Update at 4:29 pm:
Update at 5:08 pm:
Shashi Tharoor has tweeted on his remark, offering the source of his quote: