Congress leader Shashi Tharoor in an exclusive interview to Rajya Sabha TV says that beef policing is alienating large sections of the Indian society and at the same time destroying the country’s image overseas. With elections in Kerala due next year, Tharoor claimed that BJP will face backlash in the polls. On the issue of writers returning their Sahitya Academy awards, the Congress leader said he was not in favour of this form of protest but the writers were justified in voicing the concerns over a climate of intolerance fomented by the BJP government. Speaking on Dadri lynching incident, Shashi Tharoor even targeted the Prime Minister’s speech on tolerance saying it was too little too late.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
Q) Talking about what happened in Kerala Bhavan, What is this new kind of politics in the name of cow protection?
Beef policing is a disservice to India and the government is alienating large sections of people besides making people insecure. We must know that India is the world’s largest beef exporter. Even the NDMC-approved outlets are selling Buffalo meat.
Q) Elections in Kerala are due next year, will a literate society like Kerala have the takers of this kind of politics?
You can surely expect a backlash against the BJP in Kerala polls next year. These incidents have been destroying the image of India, even overseas. The Western media has begun citing ‘intolerance’ and ‘beef policing’ in their coverage.
Q) Gopal Krishna Gandhi has termed writers returning their awards a landmark moment. Do you subscribe to this view?
Personally I am not in favour of writers returning awards. I would advise the writers not to return their awards. But I think the writers felt to give up the awards voicing the concerns over a climate of intolerance. Writers are the conscience of the society.
Q) Arun Jaitley says it is a manufactured paper rebellion. Do you feel it is indeed a manufactured crisis?
Government has full awareness of the misuse of politics. Everyone knows that who incited the violence. It looks like the government is condoning climate of intolerance.
Q) Do you see a common strand between the murder of Mohammed Akhlaq and the murder of rationalists?
Rationalist thinkers have every right to express their opinions. Some people seem to believe that only they can decide on good or bad. Meat/beef ban is about the violation of freedoms and rights guaranteed to everyone. It is our duty that we must defend freedom in a democracy.
Q) Do you believe that Prime Minister’s speech on Dadri lynching goes far enough?
I am disappointed at the Prime Minister’s silence. I think he missed the opportunity to unite nation after the spate of these incidents. I think it was too little too late and PM missed the opportunity to apply balm on the minority communities. The kind of intolerant we have seen off late in these incidents lacks a moral authority.
Q) There is a perception that it’s not BJP but the RSS and Shiv Sena which together are tarnishing BJP’s image as a stable government?
The Government is allowing these fringe groups to run rampant. They should be curbed and dealt with law. Our anti-government stand will continue in Parliament when it assembles for the Winter session later next month. I can say that the Congress party has been true to its ideology.
(You can watch the entire interview at 10 pm on Wednesday and 10:30 am on Thursday)