Shashi Tharoor : Gentleman artist or New Delhi’s Man for all Seasons

via Dr. Vijaya Rajiva published on May 5, 2010

Since the Indian Premier League scandal broke, Indian journalists of all persuasions have
taken ShashiTharoor to task for what appears to be a con artist’s number on the Indian public. One journalist unhesitatingly called him a confidence trickster. Others spoke in  critical terms and some  TV anchors wondered aloud whether he had let the class down !

Whatever the range of criticism and opprobrium, rightly or wrongly , the scandal of a government  minister being caught in  corruption, intrigue and scandal, will always come back to haunt Tharoor in unexpected ways.

By and large, the feeling was that he had no one to blame but himself and indeed as one
critic remarked, he was no innocent babe in the woods coming from the UN to a garden of evil in India. Now, new questions are being asked. Was he the fall guy for a Congress government that was associating with foreign governments that were not exactly friends and allies  of India ? In the opinion of the present writer there are more serious questions about Shashi and the Congress than a romp with a lady from Dubai (reportedly soon to be his  third wife) or his financial wheeler dealering relations with the IPL.

After his return from the much touted Saudi Arabia tour, Tharoor let slip what was interpreted as another one of his notorious gaffes. He wondered aloud as to whether Saudi Arabia would not be a good interlocutor in the Kashmir question ! While he tried to explain the dictionary meaning of the word ‘interlocutor’ to an amazed and irate press, the public got caught up again in a round of Tharoor bashing.

Only a few members of the BJP seemed to have realized that this may have been a trial balloon sent up by the Congress government. While journalists were outraged by Tharoor’s patronizing attitude to them, and  more and more of what sociologist Ashish Nandy called his smart aleck attitudes, the Indian public voiced their opposition to such hare brained schemes as having Saudi Arabia act as an ‘interlocutor.’

The BJP summarily dismissed the idea and reiterated what had always been India’s
position that this was a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan.

The Hindu reported without any editorial comment that Shashi Tharoor and the Trade Minister were glowing in their account of the billions of dollars that Saudi Arabia would be investing in 2014 and the enormous profits that would accrue from this investment.

No one, not even the left of center The Hindu, thought of asking where and to whom these profits would go. Neverthless, both Tharoor and Minister Sharma looked very pleased in their press photo, courtesy of The Hindu.

In the last few days the Congress has quietly reinstated Tharoor as a dignitary in the
External Affairs Ministry, it has been reported.

And a return to his constituency meeting in Kerala was arranged to recover his lost glory.
High Command had presumably also asked him to keep his wayward tongue under
control.

So far, so good. But then enter Quadrawi. The letter Q is not exactly the Congress’s
happiest letter of the alphabet ! Who is Quadrawi ? Although most Indians may not
have heard of him, the Kerala public has heard of him, simply because he was invited
to be a guest lecturer at an Islamic  Seminar  hosted by Kerala University (Calicut).

Some 2,500 Muslim intellectuals drawn from various Middle Eastern countries have
written that Yusuf al Quadrawi is an extremist who uses the Quran and Islam as a cover
for his jihadist project. And by strange coincidence, Mr. Tharoor not only happened to be
in Kerala, he also attended the  Seminar at Kerala University, so it is reported.

The protests at Quadrawi being invited to speak at the University prompted even the
Chief Minister of Kerala to cancel his own appearance at the university. Many public
personalities followed suit. Quadrawi himself did not appear, pleading health reasons.
But Shashi Tharoor chose to attend the Seminar anyway (An account of these events
is given in Haindava Keralam).

Was Shashi Tharoor being his own man as his projected image suggests, or is there
more to all this than meets the eye
? 

( Dr. Rajiva is a Political Scientist who taught at a Canadian university).

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