A controversy erupted on Monday over Congress leader Shashi Tharoor comparing JNU students' union president Kanhaiya Kumar, facing sedition charges, with Bhagat Singh, drawing strong criticism from BJP, which accused the former Union Minister of insulting the freedom fighter.
Addressing a group of students at the JNU, Tharoor, while listing the names of victims of sedition law under British rule had said Bhagat Singh was the Kanhaiya Kumar of his time.
"The biggest victims of sedition law under the British rule were Jawaharlal Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Annie Besant and Bhagat Singh," he said.
When a girl mentioned about Kanhaiya, prompt came the remark that "Bhagat Singh was the Kanhaiya Kumar of his time."
The BJP took strong exception to Tharoor's comment saying it was an insult to the "great freedom fighter" as well as all patriots of the country.
"Bhagat Singh went to the gallows chanting 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' while fighting for the country's independence. Comparing Kanhaiya Kumar with Bhagat Singh is an insult to the freedom fighter and all the patriots. Shashi Tharoor should tell if Kanhaiya is Bhagat Singh, then what are Rahul and Sonia Gandhi," BJP's Shahnawaz Hussain said.
Tharoor on his part clarified that he did not intend to equate Kanhaiya with Bhagat Singh.
"You are finding one marginal thing which was said in response to a comment from the audience. Bhagat Singh was fighting colonial rule and foreign oppression and Kanhaiya is fighting for his beliefs in a very different democracy.
"So the situations are different but the comparison (was)-young, Marxist, idealist, passionately committed to their motherland, in their 20s...that's all," he said in a clarification.