The government and the Opposition came together in a rare show of solidarity for Kulbhushan Jadhav on Tuesday but there was confusion over whether the two were working together on a resolution condemning Pakistan for sentencing the Indian national to death for alleged spying.
A report by NDTV said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj sought Congress leader Shashi Thaoor’s help to draft a Parliament resolution condemning the verdict. Both Houses of Parliament are expected to adopt the resolution on Wednesday.
Swaraj said in the Lok Sabha that Jadhav, who was arrested by Pakistani officials in March 2016 on suspicion of espionage, could not be a spy because he had a valid Indian visa.
She then walked up to Tharoor, a successful career diplomat who was junior foreign minister in the previous UPA government. Swaraj asked Tharoor if he could help write the resolution, according to the report.
The report said the Congress MP took permission from the party’s floor leader Mallikarjun Kharge, a vocal critic of the BJP and who had earlier questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Pakistan visit.
Tharoor was later seen talking to Kharge. “Yes. We spoke certain things regarding the resolution, as the Congress has been demanding such a step. But I can’t say what transpired between Tharoor and Swaraj,” Kharge told HT.
In the evening, Swaraj played down the issue, tweeting: “There is no dearth of talent in my ministry. I have the assistance of very able secretaries.” She also posted a news report to which she was reacting.
Tharoor has helped the Modi government in the past. The Prime Minister picked Tharoor as a brand ambassador for the government’s signature Swachh Bharat scheme, although the Congress mocked at the countrywide cleanliness drive as a photo-op.
On another occasion last year, the Modi government approached Tharoor to help draft a statement to condemn Pakistan for setting free terrorist Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the Lashkar-e-Taiba commander who masterminded the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
An earlier version of this story said external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj sought Congress leader Shashi Thaoor’s help to draft a Parliament resolution condemning Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence. The story has been revised to incorporate Swaraj’s response over the issue.