JAIPUR: The upcoming general election will be a "battle for India's soul", Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said Thursday and alleged that a fundamentally different idea of India was being advocated by those close to the ruling party.
Tharoor said the idea that religion should be a determinant of nationhood was the idea of Pakistan and claimed that a determined effort was being made to 'smuggle' this idea into India.
"The idea that religion should be a determinant of nationhood is the idea of Pakistan.
The idea of India is that it will be a nation for everyone and religion will not be its basis. We now see a determined effort to smuggle the idea of Pakistan into India," he said at the Jaipur Literature Festival.
"The forthcoming elections is a battle for India's soul because we have seen a fundamentally different idea of India being advocated by those close to the ruling party," he said.
Tharoor also took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he has failed to live up to his promises and the 'liberal pronouncements' that he often makes.
"There is a central contradiction to Modi. He makes all these liberal pronouncements, but for his own political support and electoral viability across the country, he rests on the most illiberal elements of society," the Congress leader said.
Tharoor said Modi talked about "maximum governance and minimum government", but the minimum government that the country has got is that of the Prime Minister and the PMO and everything else has become 'irrelevant'.
Drawing an analogy between American and India politics, Tharoor said the Republicans campaign on guns, God and gays through cultural nationalists and speak of their real agenda which is economics only when they come to power, whereas it is the opposite in case of India.
"Modi campaigns on economics, talks about development and when he comes to power, the only people who have the authority are cultural nationalists, cow vigilantes and love jihadis. They are given a free hand," he said.
Talking about the Sabarimala controversy, Tharoor said the "politics over the issue is truly inexplicable".
"The current communist government gleefully sees the Supreme Court judgement on the Sabarimala issue through a simple political objective.
Their political strategy is to provoke enough BJP-Sangh Parivar backlash to take away Congress, Hindu votes to such an extent that the Left can gain in a big way.
The Left has shown no zeal in any other Supreme Court judgement.
There is a case involving Orthodox Church also, the communists are not even touching it, he said.
Unprecedented protests were witnessed over the entry of women of menstruating age in the Lord Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala which recently closed marking the culmination of the over two-month-long stormy annual pilgrimage season.
Kerala witnessed unprecedented violence over the issue, with houses of both CPI(M) and the BJP leaders being attacked.
All major political parties in the state including the CPI(M), the Congress and the BJP have indicated that they will try to cash in on the Sabarimala issue in the general elections.