- Shashi Tharoor says RSS disapproves of "personality cult" around PM Modi
- Says RSS frustrated at being unable to curb him, quotes unnamed "source"
- Triggers social media backlash, critics slam "drop in public discourse"
Congress lawmaker Shashi Tharoor has stirred up a controversy with a new analogy on Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- one that he attributed to an "RSS source" of a journalist. Speaking at an event in Bengaluru, Mr Tharoor, whose book on PM Modi was recently released, said the "personality cult" of the Prime Minister did not sit well with many in the RSS establishment. The ideological mentor of the BJP, he said, also found it "extremely difficult" to "curb" PM Modi.
There's an "extraordinarily striking metaphor", he said, in which the RSS expressed their "profound frustration with their inability to curb Mr Modi - and the man says 'Mr Modi is a like a Scorpion sitting on a Shivling. You cannot move it with your hand and you cannot hit it with a chappal either'."
Within hours, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad demanded an apology from the Congress chief. "Shashi Tharoor, who is an accused in a murder case, has attempted to disrespect Lord Shiva. I seek a reply from Rahul Gandhi, who claims to be a bhakt of Lord Shiva, on this horrific denunciation of Hindu gods by a Congress MP. Rahul Gandhi must apologise to all Hindus," he tweeted.
Mr Tharoor, however, was not one to accept the charge. "Which 'murder case' is this? Or are you planning to invent one, Mr Law Minister?" he retorted, before going on to add: "And while you're about it, could you explain where the alleged insult lies? I worship a Shivling at home & carry a miniature Shivling in my pocket daily. Insulting Lord Shiva is unthinkable for me. But exploiting him for petty politics is apparently OK for you."
Mr Tharoor is accused of abetting the suicide of his wife, Sunanda Pushkar, in January 2014. The matter remains sub-judice, and the Delhi high court has asked the media to respect the lawmaker's "right to silence".
Mr Prasad was not the only one who expressed outrage over the statement of the 62-year-old former Union minister, who had earlier triggered a row with his "Hindu Taliban" comment.
Author and screenwriter Advaita Kala tweeted, "In the past two days PM Modi has been called on different public platforms -- a namak haram, a dengue mosquito who needs to be exterminated with pesticide and a scorpion -- by those who complain about a drop in public and political discourse."
BJP minister Babul Supriyo tweeted:
Extremely disappointed by what @ShashiTharoor said abt Hon'ble PM•Makes me wonder once again if educated people leave their so-called education behind when in Politics•Use of Foul Language is a sure indication that @INCIndia is frustratedunder the bizarre leadership of RaBaBaBa— Babul Supriyo (@SuPriyoBabul) October 28, 2018
Mr Tharoor responded to the barrage of criticism with a tweet:
In view of the unseemly demonisation of an out of context remark today involving a scorpion metaphor, my book #TheParadoxicalPrimeMinister cites & footnotes this article - please see the last paragraph of this article. https://t.co/wgrBrjiM7T— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 28, 2018
Last month, Mr Tharoor had triggered a political storm among the BJP ranks after he said if the BJP wins in 2019, they will "tear up the constitution of India and write a new one".
He said it would "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".
When the outraged BJP hit back, Mr Tharoor questioned if there was a "Taliban emerging within Hinduism now".