Tharoor commits ultimate Cong crime

via published on January 9, 2010

Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor has done it again.

Putting on his least diplomatic hat and perhaps forgetting the culture of the party he represents, Tharoor publicly criticised the foreign policy approach of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and his mentor Mahatma Gandhi.

Tharoor – who chaired a talk by political theoretician and Labour MP in Britain’s House of Lords, Bhikhu Parekh – committed what in the Congress book is the ultimate solecism.

The event was organised by the association of Indian diplomats and the Indian Council of World Affairs.

“I agree with Parekh’s opinion on Nehru and Gandhi’s foreign policies. It was more like a moralistic running commentary,” Tharoor said.

Tharoor earlier nodded through the speech as Parekh criticised Nehru and, later, Indira Gandhi’s foreign policies.

Parekh said Nehru’s policies presented India in a context of “moral self-righteousness”, which was one of his mistakes.

“Nehru’s policies gave India an exaggerated sense of self-importance and moral self-righteousness. He even developed Indian foreign policy as though it was speaking for the whole of Asia, homogenising the entire continent and ignoring internal conflicts,” Parekh said.

Next, he spoke of Indira, whose foreign policies, according to Parekh, lacked “strategic thinking”. Parekh said: “Indira’s policies had no real desire to play a global role and shape the world. Her interests were more regional.” Tharoor, perhaps, is unaware that for the Congress, any criticism of Nehru or Indira or the Mahatma is the ultimate crime.

Instead, he referred to his own writings that are critical of Nehru’s policies and said: “I agree with Parekh on several points, we come from the same school of thought on these issues.” This is the third time in recent public memory that the minister has “inadvertently” forgotten his status as politician to be one among all.

He first got into trouble by tweeting about travelling on “cattle class” soon after Congress president Sonia Gandhi flew in economy.

The more recent one was another tweet, expressing his disapproval of the new visa rules. This brought strictures on him from the otherwise mild-mannered External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna.

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