New Delhi/Kohima, Aug 7: Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio on Tuesday demanded an apology from Congress leader Shashi Tharoor for remarking that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wore "outlandish" and "hilarious" Naga headgears but refused to wear a Muslim skull cap.
"We (Nagas) have a rich heritage and vibrant culture. We are proud of our history and traditions. The Naga headgear is renowned and gifted with honour, definitely not outlandish," Rio told IANS before his meeting with Modi.
"Every Indian is proud of the rich diversity. This diversity is our pride and our strength and mutual respect makes India a great nation," the Naga leader said. "He (Tharoor) must apologize and withdraw statements that hurt others' sentiments," Rio added.
The Naga Hoho, an apex Naga tribal body, also demanded an unconditional apology to the Naga people from Tharoor for what it said an abuse of Modi for wearing Naga headgear. Tharoor's comments, he said, were "inexcusable from a person of such a stature".
"His statement, though meant to be humorous, showed the 'contemptuous mentality' of some of the mainstream Indians towards the Northeast and in particular the Nagas," Naga Hoho President P. Chuba Ozukum said.
"Even in the past, Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi had worn Naga headgears and traditional dresses, keeping in mind that India was a democratic secular country, but no political party or individual showed such 'disregard and impudence' as that of Tharoor," he added.
The Naga Hoho also appealed to Congress leaders from Nagaland to find out the details and contact the persons and authority concerned towards resolving the controversial statement amicably on this pertinent issue.
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, the colour that he says is identified with Muslim appeasement? What kind of talk it is?" Tharoor said.