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  India   All India  09 Sep 2019  Cong duty to defend secular space: Shashi Tharoor

Cong duty to defend secular space: Shashi Tharoor

PTI
Published : Sep 9, 2019, 4:00 am IST
Updated : Sep 9, 2019, 4:00 am IST

‘Hindutva Lite’ not answer to heartland woes: Tharoor.

Congress senior leader Shashi Tharoor
 Congress senior leader Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi: Asserting that the Congress has a duty to defend secular space, senior leader Shashi Tharoor on Sunday said the answer to the party’s woes in Hindi heartland does not lie in “majority appeasement” or offering some sort of a “Hindutva Lite” like a “Coke Lite” as such a pursuit will only end up in being “Congress Zero”.

He also alleged that for the BJP dispensation and its allies being a Hindu is no different from the team identity loyalty of the “British football hooligan”.

In an interview to PTI ahead of the launch of his book The Hindu Way: An Introduction to Hinduism, Mr Tharoor claimed that what those in power  are propagating is not Hinduism in any true sense, but a “grotesque deformation” of a glorious faith, which they have converted into a narrow-minded political tool to serve purely political and electoral gains. Mr Tharoor said, as a cautious optimist he would argue that there are enough like-minded Indians, including among youth, who are committed to resisting recent “chauvinistic trends” and will continue to ensure that a “distorted idea of India” does not prevail.

“As a member of the Congress party, I do believe that the party has a fundamental role — and a duty to take the lead — in defending the secular space in India,” the Thiruvananthapuram MP said.

“Those who are suggesting that the answer to the party’s woes in the Hindi heartland is to become more like the BJP in ‘majority-appeasement’ are making a cardinal error: if the voter is presented with a choice between the original article and a pale imitation, he will choose the original every time,” he said.

Asserting that “secularism” is a word that is often misunderstood, Mr Tharoor said western dictionaries have defined secularism essentially as the absence of religion and distancing from religion, but in reality, Indian secularism has always meant a profusion of religions and the state engaging with all of them but privileging none.
    
Secularism in India did not mean irreligiousness, which even avowedly atheist parties like the Communists or the DMK found unpopular amongst their voters, he said.

Tharoor also cited the example of Kolkata’s annual Durga Puja extravaganza, during which, he said, the Communist parties compete with each other to put up the most lavish Puja pandals to the goddess Durga.

Tags: shashi tharoor, hindutva
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi