The Shashi I remember
Now that the Shashi-Tharoor-Lalit-Modi drama is over, it’s time to draw the curtains because most of us have got bored with it. Allow me to add a few words as post-script on what I know of the man who played the stellar role in the drama, writes Khushwant Singh.Updated: May 09, 2010 01:01 IST
Now that the Shashi-Tharoor-Lalit-Modi drama is over, it’s time to draw the curtains because most of us have got bored with it. Allow me to add a few words as post-script on what I know of the man who played the stellar role in the drama.
I liked Shashi Tharoor even before I met him. I had read his The Great Indian Novel based on a portion of the Mahabharat narrating Drapaudi marrying five brothers. Tharoor’s version was irreverent, amusing, laced with satire. I feared it might be banned. Fortunately, our fundoos don’t read books, so the novel sold well. I met him at its launch and found myself sitting next to his mother, who was evidently proud of her son. He was a handsome young man, boyish looking, sophisticated and well-spoken. He had a big job with the United Nations (UN) and drew a large salary in dollars. Women fell for him; he responded like a gentleman. He was never a one-woman man. At that time he had just divorced his wife and was available to female admirers. I assumed his real ambition in life was to become a great writer. I was wrong. He wanted to be a world leader. He tried to become secretary-general of the UN, got India to support him but failed. He then quit his UN job, joined the Congress and won his election to the Lok Sabha with a handsome margin. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made him a junior minister in his ministry of external affairs. Shashi felt a foreign wife didn’t fit in with his scheme to become an Indian neta. So he divorced his second wife who was Canadian. Thus began his troubles. Instead of moving to the bungalow allotted to ministers he chose to live in a suite of a five-star till the bungalow was re-furbished according to his taste. It created a rumpus in the Parliament and Tharoor quickly moved to his official residence.
He got into more trouble Twittering words of wisdom about every subject. People misunderstood what he said. By ‘cattle class’ he did not mean only ‘fit for oxen’ but too cramped for space. By ‘interlocutor’ he did not mean mediator but a friendly adviser. It was evident that he had been away from his country for too long and forgotten what his countrymen were like: a bunch of nit-pickers.
Then came the spat with Lalit Modi to get Kochi into the IPL set up. At the same time he found a comely-looking, twice-married Sunanda Pushkar who put a lot of money into sponsoring Kochi franchise. His downfall from grace was inevitable. It may be a blessing in disguise. He has no money problem. On the UN pension he can live in luxury. His lady companion is a crore-patni seventy times over. He can turn his writing skills to earn a bigger name and esteem than he did as junior minister.