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Misplaced Outrage Over Shashi Tharoor’s ‘Scorpion on Shivling’ Remark

Tharoor was speaking at an event for the launch of his new book "The Paradoxical Prime Minister: Narendra Modi And His India".

Speaking at an event for the launch of his new book “The Paradoxical Prime Minister: Narendra Modi And His India”, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Saturday, remarked that sources at RSS had used a ‘Scorpion on Shivling’ comparison for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Tharoor was talking about the “personality cult” of Modi. “There’s an extraordinarily striking metaphor,” he said, in which the RSS expressed their “profound frustration with their inability to curb Mr Modi – and the man says ‘Mr Modi is a like a Scorpion sitting on a Shivling. You cannot move it with your hand and you cannot hit it with a chappal either’.”

Shashi Tharoor
(Photo: Twitter/@nanditapawarh)

“If you think about it, it is a very profound understanding of the relationship (between RSS and Modi). “If you remove a scorpion with your hand, you will get stung very badly. But if you hit a Shivling with a slipper, you undermine all the sacred tenets of the faith you all know that the scorpion is sitting on.”

So, ultimately, you live with it, with seething frustration,” he added. “That may well be a very interesting clue to the complex dynamics that exists between the Hindutva movement and the Moditva expression of it.”

Tharoor’s remarks angered the BJP, which demanded an apology from the Congress. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a press conference on Sunday, “… while Rahul Gandhi who claims himself to be a Shiv Bhakt, one of his small leaders has almost abused the sanctity of Shiv Linga and Lord Mahadev by referring to chappal attack through named sources. Please reply to this very horrific denunciation of Lord Mahadev.

However, BJP’s outrage is being questioned as an overreaction since Tharoor’s statement came in connection with a profile of Modi published in The Caravan in 2012, titled “The Emperor Uncrowned”. In the article, journalist Vinod K. Jose had written, “Shortly before I left Gujarat, one RSS leader described his own feelings in a bitter sigh, “Shivling mein bichhu baitha hai. Na usko haath se utaar sakte ho, na usko joota maar sakte ho (A scorpion is sitting on Shivling, the holy phallus of Lord Shiva. It can neither be removed by hand nor slapped with a shoe.)

Jose took to Twitter to point out that the profile was written seven years ago and discussed on national TV as well.

Tharoor also hit back at Prasad, comparing the BJP to a “schoolyard bully” which runs “to complain to the headmaster” when “socked in the face by the truth.” He said that instead of asking Rahul Gandhi to apologise, the BJP should be asking “RSS what they think about Moditiva.”

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