Nagaland parties disapprove Tharoor’s headgear remark, seek apology

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HT Correspondent

DIMAPUR, Aug 7: Various political parties in Nagaland, including BJP and Congress on Tuesday demanded unconditional apology from the senior Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor for remarking that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wore “outlandish” and “hilarious” Naga headgears but refused to wear a Muslim skull cap.

Pradesh BJP has taken out a protest rally and burnt an effigy of Tharoor here demanding apology from the former union minister for allegedly disrespecting the Naga culture.

Tharoor has shown utter disregard towards the custom of the Nagas and have crossed all limits, the state BJP General Secretary James Vizo said.

He also demanded an apology from Tharoor. “It is shameful for someone who was at the United Nations and is an elected representative to mock the custom of the tribal people. He has insulted the tribal people of north east in general and the Nagas in particular,” Vizo said.

Addressing a seminar, the Thiruvananthapuram MP said: “Why does our Prime Minister, who wears all sorts of outlandish headgears wherever he goes around the country and around the world, but always refuses to wear a Muslim skull cap?

“You see him in hilarious Naga headgears and feathers. You see him in various kinds of extraordinary outfits, which is a right thing for a Prime Minister to do. India Gandhi has also been photographed wearing various kinds of costumes. But why he still always says no to one. Why does he refuse to wear green?”

Vizo claimed that the attitude unmasked the Congress’ claims of being the party for the downtrodden minorities and tribals.

The major opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) opined that the statement has deeply hurt the sentiments of the Nagas, and hence requested Tharoor to take back his word as the traditional Naga headgear has certain values and honor attached to it.

The party has called upon the Congress leader to tender apology to his comments immediately. While respecting the views of the Congress veteran on his stand about the PM reluctance to accept or wear the ‘Muslim Skullcap ‘which has serious ramifications on the religious sentiments of the Muslims, the NPF would like to point out that Nagas have their own unique traditional practices.

NPF said unlike the ‘skull cap ‘ that represents the Muslim religion, or the ‘Cow’ that represents the Hindu religious beliefs, the ‘Naga Headgear’ does not represent any religion for the Nagas. Rather, it is a symbol of respect and status accorded to an honoured guest or revered persons of a certain community.

To refer the Naga Headgear as ‘Outlandish’ and ‘Hilarious’ is very unfortunate and uncalled for, on the part of a learned man such as Tharoor, who is well known for his deep political insights and eloquence of speech, NPF stated.

Meanwhile, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) has disapproved senior Congress leader Sashi Tharoo’s what it called “fleeting reference” to Naga headgear at a seminar in Kerala on Sunday.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Pradesh Congress, however, said the BJP chose to ignore the bigger issue raised by Tharoor against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It said the concern shown by BJP ministers and Central leaders, followed by Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio and some of his cabinet colleagues, in trying to extract maximum political mileage is understandable but equal concern should be shown to the plight of the Nagas reeling under miserable existence owing to “16 years of misrule” perpetrated by the same set of leaders.

“The hyper activism of BJP and their paid cohorts will not wash away the sins of the state government that is fully responsible for the current state of crumbling infrastructure and myriad of socio-economic problems in which there seems to be no permanent solution but a knee jerk reaction to every situation at hand,” the NPCC stated.

On Monday, the Naga Hoho also condemned Tharoor’s remarks. It stated that such statement was ‘inexcusable’ from someone of Tharoor’s stature.

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