Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, deep in controversy over his "Hindu Pakistan" remark, today fought back, asking if there was a "Taliban emerging within Hinduism now". The former diplomat was expressing his outrage after the BJP and right wing groups said he should be deported to Pakistan for his remark that India would become a "Hindu Pakistan" if the BJP returned to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
"They are telling me to go to Pakistan. Who has given them the right to decide that because I am not a Hindu like them, that's why I can't stay in this country? So is there a Taliban emerging within Hinduism now? We must ask our Hindu brothers and sisters if people can be allowed to speak with reference to our religion in this manner," he said at a public meeting.
"As individuals, as politicians, as thinking people we are saying, BJP's talks, BJP's talks about Hindu Rashtra, is very dangerous. It can destroy our country," he added.
The BJP was quick to react. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra tweeted:
After "Hindu-Pakistan" jibe Mr Tharoor furthering His attack on the Hindus comes up with a new term "Hindu-Taliban"!— Sambit Patra (@sambitswaraj) July 18, 2018
From Hindu-Atankwadi to Hindu-Taliban ..this only reflects the pathological hatred of the Congress for the Hindus!
Mr Tharoor triggered outrage among the BJP ranks last week after he said if the BJP wins in 2019, they will "tear up the Constitution of India and write a new one". "That will 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," he said.
As an outraged BJP demanded an apology from Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Mr Tharoor's Thiruvananthapuram office was targetted, allegedly by the local youth wing of the BJP. A court in Kolkata also summoned him on August 14 after a petition was filed.
Mr Tharoor said his statement has been misconstrued. The Hindu Rashtra envisaged by the BJP-RSS is a "mirror image of Pakistan," he said, a state with a dominant majority religion that seeks to put its minorities in a subordinate place".
Mr Tharoor had been advised to maintain "restraint" by the Congress.