The unfortunate death of Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Dr. Shashi Tharoor has generated widespread speculations on the credibility of Dr. Tharoor in remaining as a Union Minister. The unprecedented events unfolded prior to the death of Mrs. Tharoor raised questions of possible involvement of Dr. Tharoor himself in the fateful incident. The linking of a Pakistani journalist, the public spat between Dr. Tharoor and his late wife during their travel from Thiruvananthapuram to New Delhi, the time and way the incident occurred and the budding media speculations are showing signs of a witch-hunt that is almost ensued.
Dr. Tharoor, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, is not a widely popular political figure in the State. Surely he is charming, energetic and stylish and may be because of these qualities he fails to get enough political and social support from the ordinary people. Even after the death of his wife, I have heard many, surprisingly even his own party men, instead of expressing sympathy are instead accusing him of being ‘stylish’, failing to have the qualities of a political leader and as an inconsiderate politician who always fall victim to his own doings. Someone even termed him as a burden to his own party.
Dr. Tharoor’s appearances with Sunanda Pushkar were most charming and were received with much public attention in the state. No other politician ever dared to be so exposing in their private life as Dr. Tharoor, especially in a country like India where one’s openness is always treated with suspicion and speculation. Our politicians tend to be secretive, always trying to keep a distance with their private and public domains and Dr. Tharoor chose to be just the opposite.
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It is a fact that Dr. Tharoor has to mediate with a wide range of people from different domains from officials to journalists while discharging his duties as a Union Minister, certainly producing a variety of relations be it friendships or official relations. There are so many of our political leaders who are accused of ‘bad conduct’ towards their sexual opposites and continue to enjoy overwhelming support from the very people who oppose Dr. Tharoor in such an affair which is not yet even proved with evidential support. It is also an established fact that there is not even a single instant in the recorded recent history where Dr. Tharoor is accused of bad behavior towards anyone, men or women, he has mingled with.
Questions being raised by some other section that Dr. Tharoor’s relations with a Pakistani journalist will be harmful to our national security. It is worrying that we, even in the changed international political system continue to view our immediate neighbor through the prism of suspicion. The nation states in the new order are no longer supposed to treat each others as rivals. In order to maintain the good relations with Pakistan we must abandon the last grain of suspicion from our mindsets. It is also meaningless to think that our national security will be in danger if a union minister exchanges a phone call or a twitter message with a journalist in our neighboring country. Our former president K.R Naryanan had married a Burmese woman, Rajiv Gandhi married an Italian woman and Farooq Abdullah married a British woman and all of them served as ministers in the union cabinet and our national security was not compromised or questioned during their tenures. Now a mere speculation, not an established fact, is being projected as affecting our national security.
Basically Dr. Tharoor is not a politician. He does not enjoy the evasiveness or sneakiness which is the common characteristics of our politicians. A more disturbing truth is that our people vigorously back a person at the top of his fame and viciously abandon him at the time of his fall. It is also an irony that our people continue to energetically support the parties, which we are so sure of committing brutal political murders and personal assaults. Dr. Tharoor’s credibility as a quintessential statesman is beyond doubt and what he desperately lacks is the wiliness of a politician.
Dr. Tharoor rightly chose to distance himself from the media, choosing not to stress his innocence with an iron will unlike many other political leaders. He is a mature statesman and we will be doing injustice to our nation if the unwarranted outcry for his blood steels the opportunity of utilizing his talents as a brilliant diplomat. It is up to the police to investigate the matter and up to the people to not combine personal abhorrence with unfair speculations and rumors.
By Ganesh Hariprakash