Will somebody take the podium away from Shashi Tharoor? It should have been taken away from Asauddin Owaisi long ago. It’s not too late even now. But who will do the taking? Rahul Gandhi could in the case of Tharoor. Barrister Owaisi?
One thing’s sure. Neither gentleman lives in Rishi Kapoor’s Mulk. The newly released film set in Varanasi defines terrorism, sets out its victims in stark relief they are not just those blown up in set terror pieces and brings out the prejudices that divide ‘them’ from ‘us’.
Talking of ‘them’ and ‘us’, Shashi Tharoor looks like he wants to beat Owaisi to the prize no matter what the price snatch the mic from the AIMIM leader and tell Owaisi’s Muslim brethren: “Here I’m, with you forever. Look I called them out with ‘Hindu Pakistan’, then ‘Taliban Hindu’, and have now told Modi to wear the skullcap and identify with the Muslim.”
Embedded in Tharoor’s galvanised call to amalgamate is ‘them’ and ‘us’. To the Hindu, he talks the language of ‘them’ and to the Muslim he talks like he used to with Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar with affection. “Why is Tharoor asking Modi to wear the Muslim skullcap?” asked one young man. “What is so hilarious and outlandish about the Naga hat?”
Shashi Tharoor must be asking that question to himself. In his excitement to expose Modi’s Islamophobia, the far-from-cattle-class Shashi Tharoor forgot that he was heading for trouble with the Naga. To the rest of the Indians, the heart might be at the heart of things, but to the Naga the ‘head’ is all that counts.
Don’t forget the Nagas were dreaded headhunters till less than a century ago. The Indian Army is on record that soldiers of the Naga Regiment settle their scores with the enemy without waiting for orders from the top-brass and the trophy they return with from across the border could even be a head or two!’
Shashi Tharoor ought to be far more cautious in his utterances though he seems incapable of learning. And to think that he could have beaten Ban Ki Moon to the moon the UN secretary-general’s post! Imagine him in a gathering of Hutus making fun of a Tutsi chief’s headgear? There would be a fresh outbreak of Rwanda Genocide!
Owaisi, the entire country knows, is a loose cannon. The Owaisi bros Asauddin and Akbaruddin are convinced that one Muslim is equal to 100 Hindus. Akbaruddin is on tape saying that “remove the police and give Muslims 25 minutes and all the 80% Hindus will be wiped out”. That irresponsible statement landed him in court. The case is still being heard.
Now, the elder Owaisi has delivered a similar sounding threat convert every ‘Hindu’ to ‘Musalman’ no matter what happens. If Owaisi is in his 50s now, he has a maximum of 50 years to ace and ice the entire Hindu-dom! Of course, he was reacting to a despicable act: Some insensitive ‘Kafirs’ had shaved off the beard of a Muslim in Haryana.
Nobody does that to a Muslim and gets away. Not in Owaisi’s Mulk. For sure Owaisi will not like Rishi Kapoor’s Mulk. Tharoor might try to identify with it. But even he will not like the judge’s monologue at the movie’s end a scathing attack on irresponsible people on podiums everywhere, pitting ‘them’ against ‘us’ for political and communal gain; talking of the ‘skullcap’ on the head, and the ’tilak’ on the forehead.
Owaisi has been the divider in the geometry box for a long time, but Shashi Tharoor is a recent divisive addition. Nobody thought this smooth-talking fellow will turn out to be such an acerbic showoff! Granted he’s a Malayalee and the Malayalee can and often does lose his head. But to make fun of the Naga and expect to keep the head is downright foolhardy.
The best advice to Shashi Tharoor is to join a ‘Kalari’ and steer clear of army cantonments if he cannot keep a clear head. And Rahul Gandhi, if he wants a head-start on Mayawati and Mamata, should promptly order Tharoor to apologise to the Nagas, keep his head down and not raise it till told to. A skullcap without a head to stick it on is not a skullcap.
(Author is a senior journalist)