Update at 20:36: Shashi Tharoor replies to Nagaland CM Rio:
Update at 19:59: Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio has also tweeted on the controversy:
A massive furore has been kicked off by the manner of Shashi Tharoor's references to the traditional attire and dresses of the North-East, arising from a line of argument that the Congress leader has been expounding on over the last few days about Prime Minister Narendra Modi not ever wearing a skull-cap.
Addressing a forum at Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Tharoor, a Lok Sabha MP, took aim at the Prime Minister, asking:
"Why does our Prime Minister, who wears all sorts of outlandish headgear wherever he goes around the country, all over the world... why does he always refuse to wear a Muslim skull-cap?", Tharoor asked.
He added, "You've seen him in hilarious Naga headdresses with feathers and various kind of extraordinary outfits."
The description of the Naga headdress as 'hilarious' and 'outlandish' has been taken issue with by a number of prominent leaders from the North-East, particularly NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma and Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio.
Himanta Biswa Sarma took to Twitter and wrote:
"An abhorring act!
Mocking people of #NorthEast and our dressing choices is what Rahul Gandhi’s family & .@INCIndia has done for 70 years.
Will .@RahulGandhi apologise for such statements of his party members?"
Speaking to Republic TV, Neiphiu Rio said, "Naga headgear is renowned. Our traditions are not outlandish and hilarious. Such language should not be used. Tharoor should apologise for speaking such things about any culture.
On being asked whether Congress president Rahul Gandhi should pull Tharoor up, he said: "Any leader should discipline and culture (their party-members)"
Union MoS Home Kiren Rijiju demanded the Congress apologise over the matter:
"The way Shashi Tharoor has described and been flippant about the Naga headress and our traditions... the Congress party should immediately apologise. These things are the identity of Adivasis, tribals and the people who live in certain places."
MoS with Independent Charge for Youth Affairs and Sports and Information and Broadcasting Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore also tweeted a video of Tharoor's remarks, writing:
"Shashi Tharoor insults the proud cultural heritage of the people of North-East.
This condescension & arrogance towards the people of India have become hallmarks of @INCIndia."
To Col Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore's tweet, Shashi Tharoor has replied but not apologised:
The headgear insult comes just weeks after Tharoor triggered controversy by stating that if the BJP comes to power in 2019, it would form a 'Hindu Pakistan'.