Angered at Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s statement about how intolerance and majoritarianism would turn India into a mirror image of Pakistan – a ‘Hindu Pakistan’ – BJP’s youth wing Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) has proceeded to prove his point by vandalizing his office in his constituency of Thiruvananthapuram.
Tharoor on Monday, July 16, alleged that BJYM “vandals” attacked his constituency office in Thiruvananthapuram and even threatened to kill him.
Tharoor said the activists of BJP’s youth wing smeared black oil on signs, doors, and walls of his workplace and tied a banner saying “Hindu Pakistan” office.
BJP Thiruvananthapuram district president S Suresh justified the act, saying the Yuva Morcha workers’ action was a democratic way of protest. “Workers have every right to vent their anger if they are provoked with such irresponsible statements,” he said.
Some days earlier, the Congress leader had said India would turn into Hindu Pakistan if BJP returned to power in 2019.
Tharoor leader posted a series of tweets to say that his office was ransacked by the BJP Yuva Morcha who also drove away the people who were waiting to meet him and submit petitions.
“Today @YUVAMORCHABJP vandals attacked my constituency office in Thiruvananthapuram. They poured black engine oil on signs, doors, walls & gate, drove away innocent citizens waiting with their petitions, put up offensive banners & shouted slogans asking me to go to Pakistan,” wrote Tharoor.
“More details are emerging of their vile conduct. They threatened to kill me & to shut down my MP office. This is an assault on democracy & on freedom of expression. We have taken it to the Kerala Police,” wrote Tharoor.
In another tweet, Tharoor said BJP’s answer to the question about giving up the dream of a Hindu Rashtra was vandalism and violence. “The BJP’s answer to the simple question “have you given up the dream of a Hindu Rashtra?” is apparently vandalism and violence. That is the face they have shown in Thiruvananthapuram today. Most Hindus will say these Sanghi goondas do not represent us,” he said.
Tharoor later added, “We have asked the BJP a very simple question. Have they given up on the dream of Hindu Rashtra, they don’t answer that. By attacking me, they are pretending to defend the Constitution, but what we see today is their answer to a question that they are otherwise unable to answer. Vandalism, goondaism, driving out the people who have come with their petition, this is the kind of politics that they want to practice. People of Thiruvanthapuram and the people of India will reject this. We want a politics where they are free to express their opinion and we are free to express ours, not politics where the answer to a free opinion is acts of violence and vandalism.”
Senior Congress legislator VD Sateeshan told the media that the incident was a show of the BJP’s arrogance.
Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala and KPCC president MM Hassan extended their support to Tharoor and visited the office. Chennithala said that Tharoor cannot be stopped and intimidated by the BJP with “such acts of vandalism”.
“The attack on Tharoor’s office by BJP goons is not acceptable. Is this the way to behave in a democratic system? Tharoor has every right to voice his opinion on issues. So many people were waiting to see the MP today and they were dispersed by these people. They tried to ransack the office. I request the state government to take strong action against those behind the attack,” Chennithala said.
Though the BJP had sought an apology from him Tharoor stood his ground saying there was nothing wrong in his statement. “A state with a dominant majority religion that seeks to put its minorities in a subordinate place will be a Hindu Pakistan,” he reiterated.
Even as the Congress national leadership distanced itself from Tharoor’s ‘Hindu Pakistan’ jibe, the party’s Kerala unit stood behind him.
Speaking on “Threats faced by Indian Democracy and Secularism” at an event here last week, Tharoor said: “The great danger is that if they (the BJP) are able to win a repeat of their current strength in the Lok Sabha, then frankly our democratic constitution as we understand will not survive because they will have all the three elements they need to tear up the Constitution of India and write a new one.
“That will be a new one which will enshrine the principle of Hindu Rashtra, will remove equality for minorities, that will create a Hindu Pakistan.”
On July 14, a Kolkata court summoned Tharoor following a petition moved by lawyer Sumeet Chowdhury dubbing the leader’s comments as “a deliberate and malicious act ” that was “intended” at “outraging” religious feelings.
However, Tharoor reiterated on Monday, “He added, “When we say we don’t want India to become a Hindu Pakistan, we are not praising Pakistan. We are saying that Pakistan was founded on the principle of one religion. That is not the idea behind India and we don’t want India to become that. But the BJP apparently doesn’t understand this.”
On Monday, when someone on Twitter pointed out to Tharoor that the vandalism was only an “equal and opposite reaction”, Tharoor shot back saying, “No one. The equal reaction to a speech is a rebuttal speech. Not vandalism. But you need to be a democrat to value that. Not too many of those in the Sangh Parivar, clearly.”