The Congress on Thursday disapproved of remarks by its MP Shashi Tharoor that if the BJP is voted to power, it will pave the way for creation of a "Hindu Pakistan", and cautioned its leaders to choose words carefully while rejecting the saffron party's "hatred".
Shashi Tharoor kicked up a huge row with his remarks on Wednesday that if voted to power again, the BJP will rewrite the Constitution and pave the way for creation of a "Hindu Pakistan".
Congress' communication in-charge Randeep Surjewala, in a series of tweets, said, "India's values and fundamentals are an unequivocal guarantee of our civilisational role & set us apart from the divisive idea of Pakistan."
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"All Congress leaders must realise this historic responsibility bestowed upon us while choosing words and phraseology to reject BJP's hatred," he said.
Surjewala attacked the Modi Government, alleging that it thrives upon "an unprecedented atmosphere of division, bigotry, hatred, intolerance and polarisation" for the last four years.
He asserted that the Congress represents India's civilisational values of pluralism, diversity, compassion and harmony between faiths and ethnicities.
Responding to a question, Congress spokesperson Jaiveer Shergill told reporters that irrespective of the government that comes to power, Indian democracy will never allow the country to become Pakistan.
"Congress advises each of its leaders and workers to exercise restraint, caution and choose their words and statements wisely. And remember that the Indian National Congress stands for a pluralistic multi-cultural, multi-faith society," Shergill said.
"Every worker of the Congress should not be provoked by the BJP's polarising and dividing statements and that is the basic difference between us and them," he said.
The BJP demanded an apology from Congress president Rahul Gandhi over Shashi Tharoor's remarks and said the MP had insulted India's democracy and Hindus.
"It is an abuse and highly objectionable statement to compare the world's sixth largest economy with Pakistan. It is an insult to our democracy and Hindus," BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said at a press conference at the party office.
Shashi Tharoor, the Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, who made the remarks on Wednesday, said in a Facebook post on Thursday that a state with a dominant majority religion that seeks to put its minorities in a subordinate place would be a Hindu Pakistan.
Shergill said India was far ahead of Pakistan and the Congress had made a "very valuable contribution" in this regard.
"I would like to say that, despite the fact that till date the prime minister has never opened his mouth or given an apology on the objectionable remarks of the BJP leaders, despite the fact that the BJP invites Pakistan's ISI into India, despite the fact that the BJP thanks Pakistan for elections in Jammu and Kashmir, despite the fact that the BJP ministers garland criminals, India can never become Pakistan, irrespective of the government," he said.