After kicking up a huge controversy by fearmongering that the BJP would create a Hindu Pakistan if they won the 2019 elections, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thurdsay offered his second explanation of the day, and what seemed like a flimsy one at that, as an almost cagey Tharoor didn't even refer to the phrase 'Hindu Pakistan' and instead continued to concentrate on the 'Hindu Rashtra' angle.
Addressing reporters in a scene filled with high symbolism, with religious idols piled pell-mell around him, Tharoor, saying he had just returned from a temple, refused to apologise for equating India, now the world's sixth-largest economy, to a country that perpetrated the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack and one that continues to be a global exporter of terror.
Instead, he delved into the history of the BJP and RSS, citing Veer Savarkar and Deendayal Upadhyay, and claimed that during the formative days of the Constitution, they had rejected the notion that India is a territory and believed that India is a land of Hindu people. Tharoor claimed that since the BJP continued to espouse Savarkar and Upadhaya's purported ideology and hadn't repudiated it, his remarks about wanting to create a Hindu Pakistan were justified.
"I am only repeating what is on record. How can one apologise for reflecting their point of view accurately?", Tharoor asked, not even coming close to addressing the following remark which he had made in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday:
"If they are able to win a repeat of their current strength in Lok Sabha, then frankly our democratic constitution as we understand it will not survive. Because all the three elements they need to tear up the constitution of India and write a new one are there. And that will be a new one that will enshrine the principle of a Hindu Rashtra, that will remove equality for the minorities, that will create a Hindu Pakistan."
After the Congress had earlier distanced itself from Tharoor's remarks, Tharoor too reflected this, saying that he had made his remarks in his personal capacity. The comment had also come just hours after Congress president Rahul Gandhi reached out to prominent Muslim community members.
"I'm a proud Hindu I just came and found your cameras here. As a proud Hindu I believe in accepting other faiths which are also the principles in the constitution", Tharoor said, adding that the remarks had nothing to do with the 2019 elections -- an utter inconsistency as the elections were a foundational premise of his Hindu Pakistan theory that the Congressmen coined on Wednesday.
A few hours earlier Shashi Tharoor had turned to social media to issue his explanations. He posted a tweet alleging that his statement that BJP wanted to turn India into a Hindu Pakistan had been 'bizarrely misconstrued':
Addressing a news briefing on the comment, the BJP's Dr Sambit Patra had said:
“Rahul Gandhi will have to explain as to how his party leaders have been denigrating the beauty of this beautiful country. We demand an apology from Rahul Gandhi”.
“Shashi Tharoor’s comment that if BJP forms government in 2019, India will become ‘Hindu Pakistan’, I believe nothing could be as defamatory and objectionable for the country. Mr Rahul Gandhi, such kind of abuses for the Indian democracy, which your leaders have been using has become a constant feature as far as Congress party is concerned. As far as this statement is concerned, this is not an ordinary statement. You have attacked the Indian democracy and Hindus by using the term ‘Hindu Pakistan’”, he added.
He went on to draw a parallel with the 'Hindu terror' term that was coined in 2008:
“Rahul ji, you have started hating Indians and also are disgusted with the Hindus of the country. Rahul Gandhi is the same person who coined the term ‘Hindu terror’ in 2008. While speaking to the US Ambassador, he had said he is not frightened of the LeT, he is frightened of ‘Hindu terror’ instead. Following suit, P Chidambaram and Sushil Kumar Shinde had propagated the term and had accused the RSS of running a terror factory. The very next day, Pakistani newspapers had carried the news and said they stand by the Congress statement".
Taking on Shashi Tharoor directly, he said:
“Shashi Tharoor is the same person who called the citizens of India ‘cattle class’, he is again ‘cattle-classing’ the Indian democracy. Shashi Tharoor ji, you want to express your affection towards Pakistanis, do that. But, don’t hate Indians. How can you compare India with Pakistan? Pakistan is 'terroristan'. It encourages terrorism. Only the Congress can show such audacity of comparing India to Pakistan.”
Meanwhile, while attempting to distance Shashi Tharoor's comments from Rahul Gandhi's party, Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi had said:
"Our only Motto is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, but the term Hindutva is brought by Modiji only. We do not agree with his (Tharoor's) stand".
She added, "It is his personal stand and party categorically believe in one thought. We respect everyone's voice and point of view and it is not embarrassing and the political party is very clear on what we stand for."