Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s silence on controversial statements by his ministers, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said Modi could have sought the resignation of those making irresponsible remarks.
Tharoor was speaking at the curtain raiser of the ninth edition of the Jaipur Lit fest at the Taj Mahal hotel in Delhi.
“A vicious atmosphere has been created by irresponsible statements made by ministers and many senior members of BJP,” he said.
“Prime minister Modi could have cut off many things by declaring that such views are unacceptable and demanded resignation from ministers who spew venom. However, he chose to be silent and one can sense that there is a political tactic to indulge divisiveness,” he added.
Dwelling on the need to retain the idea of India, Tharoor said it is time to stop allegations that intolerance is un-Indian and it is manufactured to occur just before elections.
“There is no balance between intolerance and tolerance. In the 71 war (1971 India-Pakistan war), our army chief was a Parsi, an IAF asst. chief of air staff was a Muslim and two leading army commanders were Sikh and Jewish. That’s India.”
He also urged the government to bring a consensus on the notion of respect and acceptance of difference.
“I am proud to represent Thiruvananthapuram, where in one location, Palayam Square, stands the Palayam Mosque, diagonally opposite stands St Joseph’s Cathedral, and nearby is one of the oldest Ganapathi temples in the state. And worshippers throng all three, joyfully celebrating each other’s special days. Only the notion of respect for differences can bring consensus,” he added.
Talking on the occasion, Observer Research Foundation chairman Sudheendra Kulkarni said the reason for him to leave BJP is that secularism doesn’t figure in its manifesto.
“The reason for me to quit BJP is that it doesn’t have a mention of secularism in its manifesto. Why can’t the prime minister rein in the RSS who declare that by 2020 India will be a Hindu Rashtra,” said Kulkarni.
Participating in the discussion, author, diplomat and Janata Dal-United leader Pavan Varma said: “A certain lumpen intolerance is growing. But I believe India has the strength to assert the tolerance we’ve lived by.”
Bharatiya Janata Party leader Shazia Ilmi also participated in the discussion.