- I'm more Indian than Anantkumar Hegde, I respect all religions: Tabu Rao
- I express my opinion on social media, as an Indian, she said
- This is the third time I have been targeted for no fault of mine: Ms Rao
Karnataka Congress leader Dinesh Gundu Rao has been married to Tabassum Rao for about 25 years now. However, it appears that BJP leaders are still not done attacking the couple for their inter-faith marriage.
When Union Minister Anantkumar Hegde was criticised by her husband, who is the Karnataka Congress chief, for his objectionable comments on Muslims, the BJP leader dismissed it as saying that he "only knew Mr Gundu Rao as being the person who ran behind a Muslim lady".
The "Muslim lady" in question, Tabassum Rao, told NDTV that she and her daughters were "disgusted" with such comments. "I am happy they aren't in the country because I don't want them to be pulled into this slugfest."
Tabu Rao, who describes herself as a housewife who has nothing to do with politics, said she would have responded to Anantkumar Hegde directly, but he had blocked her on Twitter.
But she has a message for the Union minister. "I'm probably more Indian than Anantkumar Hegde because I respect all religions of the country."
Talking about his jibe, Ms Rao told NDTV it wasn't the first time that she was targeted by the BJP.
"This is the third time I have been targeted for no fault of mine. I am completely apolitical. But I express my opinion on social media, as an Indian. They have no right to barge into our privacy. I don't involve myself into politics so they shouldn't involve me into their fights," she said.
Before Anantkumar Hegde, Shobha Karandlaje and Pratap Simha, both parliamentarians had made remarks around her religion, she said. Mr Simha had referred to her as "Begum Tabu" and said if Dinesh Gundu Rao had attacked the maulvis the ways he attacked UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, "she would have hit him with slippers", according to reports.
Last year, Mr Rao had reportedly claimed if Yogi Adityanath came to Karnataka, he would be "beaten up with slippers" and sent back.
"I have never made any personal remarks against any BJP leader and I strongly resent them using me as a pawn in their cheap politics. Such misogynistic and provocative remarks are highly unbecoming of a Union minister," Tabu Rao said in her response on Twitter.
She told NDTV that she and her husband had not even converted and so she can't understand the "BJP's behaviour". It's embarrassing that such comments come from their Union ministers, state ministers and MPs, she added.
"The BJP should avoid hitting below the belt. Everybody else has accepted our marriage. I don't know why BJP leaders keeps bringing it all the time. It's disappointing," Ms Rao said.