Even as the Congress downplayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's invite to its spokesman Shashi Tharoor for the Swachh Bharat campaign, the Thiruvananthapuram MP said he was honoured to accept the invitation.
“Honoured to accept the invitation of PM @narendramodi to join Clean India campaign. Just landed in Bucharest &heard d news. Action on return,” he said in one of his tweets on the subject.
Honoured to accept the invitation of PM @narendramodi to join Clean India campaign. Just landed in Bucharest &heard d news. Action on return— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) October 2, 2014
“Informed @PMOIndia I was on a flight to Romania to attend&address #BucharestForum when his announcement came. Back Sunday.Clean India is4all,” read his another tweet.
Modi’s invite to Tharoor ruffled many feathers in the Congress with some leaders privately saying that the former union minister was “slowly moving closer” to the BJP.
Tharoor had earlier faced flak after he praised Modi in an article in a US news website in which he wrote that the PM was looking to turn himself from a “hate figure into an avatar of modernity and progress” and that it would be churlish not to acknowledge the change.
Senior leaders trained their guns at him for the controversial remarks. While Mani Shankar Aiyar called him “immature” and a “chameleon”, Digvijaya Singh advised him not to jump to conclusions.
Tharoor later clarified his statement by writing a letter to party’s communication department head Ajay Maken in which he made it clear that he stood committed to the organisation and the principles of secularism.
“By praising him for specific things, we help frame public expectation of his continued behaviour and raise the bar against which we will judge him in future,” he wrote.
On Thursday as well, Tharoor sought to clarify the matter. “I am not a fan of tokenism. CleanIndia is a great campaign but challenge will be2sustain it beyond a week of photo ops. Mindsets must change,” he tweeted.
Congress leader Rajiv Shukla maintained that there was noting to be surprised over the move. “That should not be the basis of any speculation about any individual. So I do not buy that. But at the same time I think that everybody should have been invited. Why only one or two individuals?” he asked.