Wednesday, September 09th, 2009 | Author:

It’s hard to find solace when your idols are cracking up. In my view, that’s exactly whats happening for many Indians who admired Tharoor.

The headline news across Indian media channels on 8th Sep, ’09 had one thing to talk about as breaking news – about India’s Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s ‘eviction’ order to the country’s two top politicians, Shashi Tharoor and S.M Krishna. They were allegedly ordered to vacate the 5-star suites they are occupying in Delhi for over 3 months. The media report stated that both the politicians have been occupying the suites for over 3 months.

Shashi Tharoor, who has been using Twitter to engage in dialogues with a staggering number of followers, found himself flooded with countless tweets. His followers wanted his views on the report.

Despite my admiration for Tharoor as an intelligent thinker, writer, and leader, it came as a real dampener to read how he dismissed the issue as a ‘non story.’ His rationale is that he did not spend the taxpayer’s money or use any government privilege.

When the Indian Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh is advocating austerity day after day, this act of ostentation, whether its Tharoor’s pocket money or property money, is insulting. Pritish Nandy rightly stated on Twitter that the issue is not where the money came from but why the act of ostentation took place.

Next, Tharoor’s excuse of not staying in Kerala House, on Twitter, was that it lacks two things – a gym and privacy.

You don’t really need to stay in a five star hotel suite just to get a good gym facility, do you?

About privacy, I feel outraged that someone like Tharoor lied. It’s a very private, exclusive space for celebrities and political leaders at Kerala House. The accommodation is truly king-size luxury at little or no price at all for the elite circle that stays there. The state’s most popular Ministers, actors, and celebrities enjoy their privacy there. It’s like living in royal grandeur and splendid isolation.

That’s what makes Tharoor’s statement such a blatant lie. The fact that he lied is what angers those who follow him with respect. Sure, politicians insult our intelligence all the time with the most creative excuses, its no big deal, really.

Maybe we would have respected Shashi Tharoor if he had been honest about the whole deal. Of course, no politician is perfect in any country but from Tharoor, we made the mistake of expecting a little more. We saw his entry into politics as a better chance to believe in the political high class once again, based on a mistaken belief that perhaps good, intelligent leaders are back. What we’ve got is suave lies, and that is not fair.

Like a consolation prize of sorts, Tharoor stated that he visits Kerala House to meet and talk with people. Maybe someone needs to remind him the only people in Kerala House are celebrities and Ministers. To meet people, Tharoor needs to step out of his 5 star suite with its gym and privacy facilities and visit his constituency for a change. There are a lot of people out there who are living in an unenviable state of austerity. Maybe Tharoor the suave politician needs to step out of his fancy political suit to recognize this fact.

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7 Responses

  1. 1

    Where Mr. Tharoor stays with his own money ( which he earned respectfully ) is something that he has the right to decide.

  2. 2

    First, it is surprising that Swapna has commented negatively on Shashi Tharoor’s art of living. I think Shashi did the right thing by vacating his Taj suite after defence minister’s diktat. Tough to expect an austere lifestyle from a former diplomat.

  3. I don’t know what the reality is, but yes I was certainly surprised by Mr. Shashi Tharoor’s response on the issue. Atleast I did not expect such response from him. He have degraded his respect from my side as well. I do agree with Swapna’s thoughts.

  4. 4

    Capitalism and austerity are not mutually exclusive but difficult to balance. Only very enlightened can do it.

  5. 5

    have you seen Kerala House when ministers are in residence? Every crook, tout, broker, middleman and deal-maker in Delhi invades them to weasel favours and cut deals — there’s no breathing space from the invasion, it’s sickening and I fully understand why a decent man like Shashi Tharoor wants no part of it!

  6. 6

    Thank you all for the interesting comments. My thoughts:

    @Harish: Tharoor the individual is not answerable to anyone but as a Minister, he has chosen to be answerable to the country, the Prime Minister and his voters. It’s not about money, its about conducting power responsibly.

    @Palash, Kuntal & Avinash: Thanks! I am angered by lies and hypocrisy, especially when it comes from a leader like Tharoor. Leaders know exactly how to set expectations and thankfully, I’ve reset mine. Capitalism and austerity are hard to balance but there are good leaders who tread it and balance it well.

    @Abdullah: Well, I love Kerala House, especially their food, the fried fish they make is just awesome. I’ve stayed there frequently but not a single crook or weasel came my way. Only the cooks came, with lots of yummy seafood and other delicacies. I guess I missed the adventures happening there coz I got too involved with what was cooking their kitchens:)

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