This is a serious discussion between senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and a senior journalist Barkha Dutt about the beard grown by Prime Minister Modi. And in all seriousness the duo are discussing the length of his beard and how it looks ‘communal’.
Did Congress play a Me too card on Ram Mandir? @shashitharoor has this to say on Hinduism Vs Hindutva. But he also has a view on PM @NarendraModi beard for the big moment. "He wanted to appear a Rishi Raj, to say I am sage, I am warrior"- Full intvw coming to @themojo_in pic.twitter.com/75zPTWDe9h— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) August 10, 2020
Towards the end of the rant at around 5 minute 42 seconds, Tharoor says that once if the court has taken a decision that a temple can come up, of course it should come up but his objection is on the sitting prime minister carrying out the Bhoomi Pujan. He adds he wouldn’t have had issues if the Bhoomi Pujan was carried out by ‘appropriate religious authorities’. He claims PM Modi doing the Bhoomi Pujan is appropriation of religious imagery and the conflation of the religious and political.
“Mr Modi allows his beard to grow. Ever since the judgement you’ve noticed he is not trimming his beard. It is getting longer and longer. He is coming there looking like some sort of Rishi Raj like state king in saffron robes,” he says. Barkha Dutt intervenes that how imagery is all part of politics. “Your persona, your signalling, your messaging, it is part of it,” she says. To this Tharoor says that PM Modi wears every type of headgear presented to him “except the Muslim skull cap,” he adds.
When Dutt asked him what his problem with the beard, he says the beard is all about giving the ‘Rishi Raj’ appearance. “Beard was done to give this ‘Rishi Raj’ appearance about the holy man who is also the king. The sage who is also the warrior. That is the image that is being conveyed,” he said.
Tharoor, apparently, is not the only one to have a problem with PM Modi’s beard. ‘Liberals’ and Islamists alike have also expressed their concerns over his beard.
co-opted by the Hindu nationalist movement right from the days of Bal Gangadhar Tilak, when Tilak presented him as a symbol of Hindu militancy and aggressive Indian nationalism. Tilak valorised Shavaji's killing of Afzal Khan and used it (along with his reading of the Gita) as— Asim Ali (@AsimAli6) August 5, 2020
ThePrint and The Wire columnist referred to the beard as a symbol of ‘Hindu militancy’. Similarly, former JNU student activist-turned politician-turned activist Shehla Rashid thought his beard is like that of Ertugrul, the lead character of Turkish drama series which the Pakistanis and Rana Ayyub have been bingewatching and going ga-ga over.
Why is Modi sporting an Ertugrul beard?— Shehla Rashid (@Shehla_Rashid) August 5, 2020
Journalist Hartosh Singh Bal was also quite fixated on the beard.
One Islamist also thought PM Modi with his beard is establishing a caliphate.
as far as nautanki goes modi is prime. all dressed for today's part, that beard grown and hair coiffured for this day.— Hartosh Singh Bal (@HartoshSinghBal) August 5, 2020
Violent Hindutva or extreme Hindu nationalism is going to be a state-sponsored global phenomenon. This is not going to die down soon. Modi appears to be it's first spiritual+political leader. A demigod. The Promised One.— Waqas (@worqas) August 5, 2020
It is 2020 and we’re in middle of pandemic that originated in China but for some, beards are communal.