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Shashi Tharoor – A Man Surrounded by Controversies



Shashi Tharoor was Minister of State for External Affairs and a member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala. He resigned to his position on 18 April 2010 due to corruption charges indicted on him regarding his involvement in influencing sweat equity of IPL Kochi team to one of his close aides.

Shashi Tharoor, also known as the Tweet Minister of India, has been surrounded by controversies. Since September 2009 he is been in the lime light for one or the other reason. He has the most attention of all the media persons not only from India but also from all over the world. However, this time the IPL controversy has cost his Minister ship.

Dr. Shashi Tharoor is in news for wrong reasons. Mr. Tharoor is also the ex-UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information. He is the first Indian celebrity to get 100,000 followers on Twitter. Sometimes he is in news for a tweet or a statement made during his speeches. The Tweet Minister is also “a prolific author, human rights advocate, journalist, columnist, he served as the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and as the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs. Other than these high profile posts he is presently on the Boards of Overseers of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Trustees of the Aspen Institute, and the Advisory of the Indo-American Arts Council, the American India Foundation, the World Policy Journal, the Virtue Foundation and the human rights organization Breakthrough. He is also serving as an adviser to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, as a Fellow of the New York Institute of the Humanities, a Patron of the Dubai Modern School and the managing trustee of the Chandran Tharoor Foundation which he founded with his family and friends in the name of his late father, Chandran Tharoor.”

Controversies that surround Shashi Tharoor

  • 2009 September – Tharoor and S. M. Krishna (Tharoor’s Boss) were accused of staying in luxurious 5-star hotel
  • 2009 September – Cattle Class Remark
  • Comment about Gandhi Jayanti Holiday
  • Tharoor’s criticism regarding Gandhi and Nehru’s vision on Indian foreign policy.
  • 2010 February – Interlocutor Controversy
  • 2010 April – IPL Kochi Team

2009 September – Tharoor and S. M. Krishna (Tharoor’s Boss) were accused of staying in luxurious 5-star hotel

  • In September 2009, He along with his boss Mr. S.M. Krishna were accused for staying in a five star hotel. To which he defended himself by saying that he had to say in this hotel because of the delays in his official residence being ready. All the expenditure was borne by Tharoor himself. However, when Pranab Mukherjee (Finance Minister of India) requested them to move out, they checked out immediately.

2009 September – Cattle Class Remark

  • The next big thing (controversy) was the “cattle class remark” made by Mr. Tharoor in which he equated economy class as cattle class (which was a joke). However, the media exaggerated the issue and was turned into a huge debate of discussions on the news channels and also Internet. He then held a meeting with his party members to clear out the issue, to which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh pointed out that “it was a joke”.

Comment about Gandhi Jayanti Holiday

  • One of his tweet on Gandhi Jayanti (2nd October) created some difficult situation for him. That day he tweeted that “the people should work rather staying at home and enjoying holiday and that would be the real homage to Mahatma Gandhi, the father of nation.” This tweet of his was considered as disrespect to Gandhi ji by many of his opponents.

Tharoor’s criticism regarding Gandhi and Nehru’s vision on Indian foreign policy.

  • The criticism of Nehru and Gandhi’s vision on Indian Foreign Policy by Tharoor fueled another fire of controversies. The comment worked like a spark and angered his party members. However, Tharoor blamed media for creating it a controversy. Tharoor said that “Irresponsible reporting may briefly gratify a few sensation-seekers in the media, but they do no credit to the need for informed discussion of foreign policy issues in our democracy. India deserves better. So, frankly, do I.”

2010 February – Interlocutor Controversy

  • Interlocutor Controversy – In February 2010, on a visit to Saudi Arabia along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, in one of his speech he said “We feel that Saudi Arabia has a long and close relationship with Pakistan that makes Saudi Arabia even more a valuable interlocutor for us. When we tell them about our experience, Saudi Arabia listens as somebody who is not in any way an enemy of Pakistan, but a friend of Pakistan and, therefore, will listen with sympathy and concern to a matter of this nature”. The remark about Saudi Arabia being a “valuable interlocutor” fired up reactions in the opposition parties, they again got a point to bombard Congress. The media from Pakistan ignite the fire by reporting that “the external affairs minister of India has proposed that Saudi Arabia play a mediator’s role in improving India’s relationship with Pakistan.” Finally, Tharoor tweeted “An interlocutor is someone you speak to. If I speak to you, you are my interlocutor. I mentioned the Saudis as our interlocutors, i.e. the people we are here to speak to”.

2010 April – IPL Kochi Team

  • The source of this latest controversy is the IPL chief Mr. Lalit Modi. Mr. Modi breached the confidentiality agreement and published in his twitter account the details of stakeholder’s of IPL Kochi Team’s franchise owners Rendezvous Sports World (RSW). To which he also claimed that “he was asked by an influential Union Minister to not get into details of Sunanda Pushkar” who has a stake of about 18% that equals to Rs. 70 crore. He actually pointed his finger to Mr. Shashi Tharoor. However, Tharoor denied having played any role in this IPL team auction and hasn’t made any profit from the sale or having pressured Modi in any way. RSW protested Modi’s breach of confidentiality agreement. Sunanda Pushkar also issued a statement denying all the charges filed against her.