Is Shashi Tharoor the virtual defector that Mani Shankar Aiyar called him? Is he naive and misguided or is he being reasonable?

Shashi Tharoor – Virtual Defector and Modi Admirer?shashi tharoor Shashi Tharoor – Virtual Defector and Modi Admirer?

  1. A lot of India is working today, on 2nd October, Gandhi Jayanti, one of our three major national holidays. Many schools are working; government offices will be open and employees will be taking the much talked-about ‘Swachhata Shapath’ (pledge of cleanliness). Then minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor had suggested exactly this a few years ago, when he was reported as having said “I have always found somewhat ironic that we celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday with a holiday. I think he would have wanted us to work even harder to honour his memory.” (Source – Times of India)
  2. While Tharoor’s idea was booed down then and even his own party distanced itself from these supposedly blasphemous views by terming them his “personal view”, now that similar views are being expressed by Narendra Modi and his government, everyone seems rather gung ho with the idea. Perhaps it is this, that commonality or meeting of minds that has predisposed Tharoor to the BJP and the new PM’s style of functioning?
  3. Mr Tharoor was in the news for having praised Mr. Modi’s UN speech made during the recently concluded US state visit. He thought it was a fitting reply to Pakistan’s rant. He tweeted, “Strong speech by @PMOIndia at #UNGA2014. Soaring internationalism, support for democracy & environment, anti-terrorism. Good reply to Pak.”
  4. However he also pointed out that Mr. Modi had made the error of referring to PoK as Pakistan, saying that this was the result of extempore speech. In his view, foreign affairs matters need to be tightly scripted. A minor quibble in the midst of otherwise fulsome praise, Congress supporters thought. (Source – DNA)
  5. Earlier as well, Mr. Tharoor had spoken out in favour of Mr. Modi. Suggesting that the new PM had evolved into a newer, better avatar, Tharoor referred to him as “Modi 2.0”, saying that Modi seemed to be looking to turn himself from “hate figure into an avatar of modernity and progress“, opining that that as PM he seemed to be very different than the ogre many demonized for years. (Source – Times of India)
  6. Predictably, the Congress distanced itself from Mr. Tharoor’s views. “What Shashi Tharoor expressed for Govt are his personal views, too early to express these views as far as the party is concerned” said Shobha Oza, Congress leader. She said that she and her party were still waiting for Modi to put into practice what he had been preaching.
  7. The highly vocal Mr. Mani Shankar Aiyar reacted by calling Mr. Tharoor a “virtual defector”. It was his view that Tharoor’s comments would have embarrassed “even the most ardent of BJP supporters“. We went on to say that Tharoor could have fought the elections for BJP from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency instead of BJP candidate Rajagopalan. Aiyar took the opportunity to direct some of his ranting at the new PM as well, saying that he would await his ‘Godhra’ moment, likening him to Hitler and his Reichstag moment. (Source – Times of India).
  8. So is Mr. Tharoor naïve, misguidedly optimistic and trusting as some would believe? Is he looking to desert the sinking Congress ship and align himself with the triumphant party in power? Or is he making a reasonable observation from the Opposition; acknowledging the positives without letting his political affiliations come in the way?

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