Mumbai: Congress MP and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of "wounding" India's soul by "unleashing forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry". Such a climate did not prevail in the past, he said during an interaction organised here by the All India Professionals Congress (APIC), of which he is the chairman.
Referring to the barbaric rape-and-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, Tharoor said it was inexcusable to defend the perpetrators of the ghastly crime which has caused a national outrage.
"This is done in the name of religion. No one is saying the BJP or the government run by the party is directly responsible for this. But, it has unleashed forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry.
"If they had mismanaged the economy, at least they should have protected the social fabric. But, they have wounded India's soul," the parliamentarian-author said.
Tharoor lashed out at the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, accusing it of indulging more in marketing and PR exercise rather than doing actual work on the ground. "Even in case of foreign policy, the government wanted to take political credit without doing anything.
"Such things may work in domestic politics but not in the foreign policy arena," said the former UN diplomat, referring to the 2016 surgical strikes across the LoC and last year's Doklam standoff with China.
Tharoor rejected suggestions that the Congress was engaging in "soft Hindutva" as reflected in party chief Rahul Gandhi's temple visits during election campaigns. "It is not soft Hindutva, but an attempt to neutralise the BJP's argument that they alone represent Hindus," said the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram.
Hindutva is a political ideology of the BJP which has nothing to do with religion, he said. "Sadly, this ideology is growing in the last four years and people are getting attracted to the language and rhetoric of its proponents."
Tharoor said the need of the hour is to strengthen democracy as there had been a "sustained attack" on the media, judiciary and bureaucracy.
Speaking of the Congress, which bagged its lowest ever seat tally in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and also faced election defeat in some states, he said the party would rebuild itself. "We are a party with conscience. We want to see businesses grow."
Asked about the party's internal elections and primaries to select candidates, Tharoor said Congress workers feel such polls encourage factionalism. "They say they would abide by selections of the party central leadership."
Congress leader Milind Deora, who was also present at the interaction, admitted the party had failed to communicate with people.
"We are correcting mistakes of the past. Our narrative will be clear and lucid. But, the BJP is more of PR and less of action.
"The 2G scam was a case study in our failure to communicate that the (Congress-led UPA) government had not auctioned spectrum because it wanted to increase tele-density in rural areas," said the former Union Minister of State for Information Technology and Communications.
He said the demonetisation exercise was carried out by the Modi government without any consultations.
"This shows the centralised approach of this government which was not the case with the UPA," said the former Lok Sabha MP.