Shashi Tharoor, who was speaking on building a Ram Temple in Ayodhya, says he was misquoted and calls it ‘malicious distortion’ of his words.
New Delhi: That fake news, especially on social media, is fast becoming the new normal is not news any longer. Monday, it was Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s turn to land in controversy over his statement about building a Ram Temple at Ayodhya – a statement which was clearly distorted to build a case that he and his party are opposed to the Ram Temple and, by extension, Hindus.
Responding to a question during the third edition of The Hindu Lit for Life Dialogue and lecture series, held Sunday, Tharoor, who was in conversation with Gopalkrishna Gandhi, former governor of West Bengal, said: “As a Hindu obviously I’m very conscious that a vast majority of my fellow Hindus believe that was the specific birthplace of Ram. And for that reason, most good Hindus would want to see a Ram temple at the site where Ram was supposed to be born. But I also believe that no good Hindu would have wanted to see that temple built by demolishing somebody else’s place of worship.”
The following day, however, his statement was twisted and it was suggested that “good Hindus” were opposed to the construction of the Ram Temple.
Tharoor also said he was misquoted by BJP ministers and certain media outlets as saying that “no good Hindu” would want a Ram temple built on the disputed site in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh.
He issued a clarification Monday. “I condemn the malicious distortion of my words by some media in the service of political masters,” he tweeted.
I condemn the malicious distortion of my words by some media in the service of political masters. I said: “most Hindus would want a temple at what they believe to be Ram’s birthplace. But no good Hindu would want it to be built by destroying another’s place of worship.”
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 15, 2018
The controversy comes two weeks before the Supreme Court starts hearing the Ayodhya dispute case.
Tharoor, a Lok Sabha MP, however, said it was his personal opinion.
“I am not a Spokesperson for my party & did not claim to be speaking for @incindia,” he tweeted.
Tharoor had also made a version of this statement not once, but twice over the weekend.
According to an Indian Express report tweeted by Tharoor Sunday, the Congress leader said: “It’s contentious because it’s sub judice, so none of us has the right to take a view on this. But like most Hindus, it would be wonderful to have a temple where Ram was born, but no good Hindu would want that at the expense of the demolition of someone else’s place of worship.”
He said that while speaking at a session titled ‘Tharoorisms on Hinduism’ on the second day of the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival at Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, Saturday.
At a separate event Sunday, Tharoor again said, “While a vast majority of Hindus believe that Ayodhya was the birthplace of Lord Ram, no good Hindu would want to see a Ram temple built by demolishing somebody else’s place of worship.”
However, Tharoor’s statement seemed to have offended BJP MP Subramanian Swamy, who went as far as to call him a “neech aadmi”.
The last time these words created uproar in the media was when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was at the receiving end of Congress veteran Mani Shankar Aiyar’s remark, calling him a “neech kisam ka aadmi”.
In a separate tweet, Swamy attacked Tharoor.
Now media is adopting double standards in the Me Too matter. GST has been chargesheeted for assisting his wife to kill herself and is out on bail. Yet no demand that he resign. Media is despite projecting his idiotic views on Ram Temple. MJ Akbar has only allegations just yet.!
— Subramanian Swamy (@Swamy39) October 15, 2018
“Now media is adopting double standards in the Me Too matter. GST [Tharoor] has been chargesheeted for assisting his wife to kill herself and is out on bail. Yet no demand that he resign. Media is despite projecting his idiotic views on Ram Temple. MJ Akbar has only allegations just yet!” he wrote.
BJP leader GVL Narasimha Rao has also been quoted as saying, “They (Congress) are trying to delay the construction of Ram Temple. We will wait for the court verdict. This comment is yet another attempt to indulge in vote-bank politics.”
A quick lesson in history
Despite Tharoor’s stance that he was not speaking on behalf of his party, the Congress’ role in the Babri Masjid demolition is an often overlooked one.
It was then Congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandh who persuaded Uttar Pradesh chief minister Bir Bahadur Singh to open the locks of Babri Masjid in 1986, allowing all Hindus access to the disputed land.
The final demolition of the Babri Masjid, in 1992, also occurred under the watch of PM P.V. Narasimha Rao, despite many indications forewarning the violence.