Former Vice-President of India Hamid Ansari has backed Congress MP Shashi Tharoor over his controversial statement that India will become Hindu Pakistan if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wins the 2019 general elections.
"He (Tharoor) is a learned man whatever he says will be well thought of.” Said Ansari, in an exclusive interview to ANI.
However, Ansari clarified that he has not read what Tharoor said at a public gathering in Kerala on Wednesday.
"I haven't read what he Tharoor has said," Ansari told the news agency.
"Tharoor has a right to make his own judgment," Ansari added while speaking on the right to freedom of speech.
On incidents of lynching, he said, "I think public reaction says it all. Nobody has the right to take a law in their own hands. There is a law in this country."
The Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram had triggered a controversy when he warned that if the BJP returns to power in 2019, it will bring certain amendments to the Constitution and insert principles of ‘Hindu Rashtra’ into it.
"If the BJP wins the 2019 Lok Sabha election, our democratic constitution, as we understand it, will not survive as they will have all the elements they need to tear apart the constitution of India and write a new one," he said.
"That will remove equality for minorities, that will create a Hindu Pakistan and that isn't what Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad and great heroes of freedom struggle fought for," he said.
But Tharoor says he does not see any reason why he needs to apologise for "BJP's point of view," adding that if the BJP and the RSS are no longer interested in the idea of a Hindu Rashtra, they must admit it.
"Until they do so, how can one apologise for reflecting their point accurately?", Tharoor said to news agency ANI.
The BJP had earlier demanded an apology from Congress President Rahul Gandhi over Tharoor’s comments.
"Rahul Gandhi must apologise for what Shashi Tharoor has said. Congress was responsible for the creation of Pakistan because of its ambitions. Yet again it has gone ahead to demean India and defame Hindus of India," said Sambit Patra, National Spokesperson of the BJP.
(With inputs from agencies)