Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor got a reprieve but only after a rap for his controversial comments on India’s foreign policy as envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi and first Prime Minister Jawarharlal Nehru.
This is the third time that the minister’s comments have upset the party leadership and may possibly be the last time he has been let off.
Tharoor perhaps realised that he overstepped. This time he hurriedly called a press meet on Sunday to clarify that what he said was the gist of the arguments made by British MP Lord Bhikhu Parikh at a seminar and not expressing his views. Parikh had been critical of the foreign policy vision of Gandhi and Nehru.
He also criticised the media for “inaccurate’’ reporting.
Tharoor, it is believed, had read out his statement to the Congress as well as government representatives.
“After the clarification, the matter stands closed,’’ said Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi on Monday.
There was some heartburn in the Kerala Congress when Tharoor, who served the UN for almost 30 years, was given a ticket on contest Lok Sabha election. His stint at the world body and backing of the central leadership got him a ministerial position in May 2009.
But ever since, he has been making news for all the wrong reasons. He, like his senior minister S.M. Krishna, stayed in a five-star hotel when the party was pushing for austerity. Senior party colleague Pranab Mukherjee had to tell him to move out.
His “cattle-class” remark on Twitter raised hackles. More recently, his public criticism of the new visa guidelines made Krishna see red.