Congress leader Shashi Tharoor stoked a fresh controversy wondering whether the "Talibanisation of Hinduism" has started, days after the walls of his office in Kerala were defaced over his remark that the BJP will pave the way for a "Hindu Pakistan" if voted to power again.
The Congress today again reiterated that party leaders need to be careful about their language while making statements.
"We have already clearly clarified our position. Whenever party leaders are speaking, they should be very careful about their language. That already has been stated. That is still there," Congress leader K C Venugopal told reporters when asked about Tharoor's remarks.
Tharoor, while addressing workers of Kerala's opposition United Democratic Front (UDF) at a protest march against alleged neglect of the state by the Centre yesterday, said, "They are asking me to go to Pakistan. Who has given them the right to decide that I am not a Hindu like them and so I cannot live in India?"
"The BJP's talk of Hindu Rashtra is really dangerous and will destroy this nation. Has Talibanisation started in Hinduism?" the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram said.
Tharoor had recently courted a huge controversy with remarks that the BJP, if voted to power again, will rewrite the Constitution and pave the way for creation of a "Hindu Pakistan".
Tharoor had also said that the BJP would rewrite the Constitution if it came back to power, prompting the ruling party to describe his comments as an "attack on Indian democracy and Hindus".
Members of the BJPs youth wing -- Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) -- had defaced Tharoor's office on Monday while demanding an apology for his "Hindu Pakistan" comments.
Tharoor, while speaking to reporters outside Parliament today, defended his remarks and slammed those asking him to go to Pakistan saying, "I am a citizen of this country, I have a right to voice my opinion as the representative of the people."
Asked about claims that he was trying to break the country with his remarks, Tharoor said it was not so.
"If you make India for one religion, that can probably break the country. When everyone will be able to live together, how will that break the country," he said.
"Those who attacked my office should apologise. I am not withdrawing anything," he added when asked to comment on demands that he should apologise.
Five activists of the BJP's youth wing were arrested yesterday for defacing his office in Thiruvananthapuram.
Tharoor, while speaking in Parliament, today also accused right-wing activists for death threats and also vandalising his office. He demanded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention in dealing with such anti-national elements.
Raising the issue during Zero Hour in the Lok Sabha, Tharoor said the attacks are on people who are expressing dissent and the victims, in recent months, have included intellectuals, minorities, and various citizens of the country.
"I am sorry to raise before this House the attack on my constituency office in Thiruvananthapuram and the death threats that I received from members of the ruling party in response to my criticism of far right extremism.
"This is not just an attack on constitutionally-sanctioned MP's office but also a larger attempt by incendiary elements and their digital equivalents to destroy the idea of India as a pluralistic and accepting democracy," Tharoor said.
He further said that even Swami Agvinesh was attacked for expressing dissent against rising intolerance.
"We cannot and should not stand by as communal violence, mob-lynching and hooliganism replace rule of law and rights guaranteed by our Constitution.
"I strongly urge the prime minister to break his silence on the behaviour of his own party men and take action against these anti-national elements and anti-Indian elements who seek to abridge the freedom of speech in our democracy," Tharoor said.
His remarks drew sharp reaction from the Treasury benches with Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar saying that the law and order situation has to be dealt by the state government.
"There is a state-organised terror... in Kerala," Kumar said, adding the allegations that attack was carried out by right-wing activists are baseless and far from truth.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)