Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and Bollywood actor Anupam Kher, at the centre of a debate on tolerance in India, got into a Twitter spat over whether or not Hindus in India should be circumspect in proclaiming themselves as such and the categorisation of them in ideological terms.
The spat was sparked off when the actor, in a television interview, said that the situation in the country was such that he was “scared to say openly that I am a Hindu.”
Mr.Tharoor took up the gauntlet, chiding Mr.Kher, “Come on Anupam, I say it all the time, I’m a proud Hindu. Just not the Sangh’s kind of Hindu.” He was referring to the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and its espousal of Hindutva, differentiating it from Hinduism.
The matter didn’t end there, with Mr.Kher responding to Mr.Tharoor, accusing him of misinterpreting his statement, and also calling him a “Congi chamcha ” or sycophant of the Congress.
Mr.Tharoor accused Mr.Kher of using abusive words when he “runs out of arguments” and stated that he (Tharoor) was proud of his Congress credentials.
Mr.Kher then castigated Mr.Tharoor for differentiating between different kinds of Hindus. “Sadly, you forgot that you brought in your kind of Hindu and Sanghi Hindu first. You want to categorize that also?” he asked.
Mr.Kher had marched in protest against fellow actor Aamir Khan’s remarks on what the latter perceived as diminishing religious tolerance in India after the deaths of writer M.M. Kalburgi and the Dadri lynching episode last year, putting himself firmly on the side of the BJP, which had protested against Mr.Khan’s remarks as being politically motivated. Mr.Kher’s wife, Kirron Kher, is the BJP MP from Chandigarh.