In his book, Ban ki-Moon talks about his time as ex-UN secy general; mentions Tharoor

Updated on Nov 15, 2021 10:02 PM IST

“Even now, nearly fifty years later, I tell the Indian people that half of my heart belongs in their country,’’ Moon writes in the book

Former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. (HT photo)
Former UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. (HT photo)

In an upcoming book on his days as the United Nations secretary-general, Ban ki-Moon reveals some behind the scenes details of his competition with Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor for the top job and how a spat with the Indian envoy to the UN led to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sending a top aide to make amends with him.

The book ‘Resolved’ published by Harper Collins will be out by the end of the week and tells the story of the 10 years that Ban ki-Moon spent doing what is often described as the “most impossible job in the world.’’ A career diplomat, he reveals his special relationship with India where he not only got his first posting but also where his son was born while his youngest daughter is married to an Indian. “Even now, nearly fifty years later, I tell the Indian people that half of my heart belongs in their country,’’ Moon writes in the book.

In the 376-page-long book, he contradicts the perception that the Manmohan Singh government backed Tharoor’s candidacy for the top job at the UN. At the time, Tharoor was already a long-serving diplomat at the UN, having served there for more than two decades. In the run-up to the race in 2006, Tharoor met Prime Minister Singh and was confident about his chances. “Obviously we will not be in the race if we didn’t believe there were reasonable prospects for success,” he told reporters after his meeting. However, in the book, Moon reveals that a different impression prevailed in the UN.

“It was rumoured that Shashi Tharoor did not enjoy the Indian government’s support, but the fact that he received ten votes made me anxious,’’ he writes in his book. To win, the claimants needed to get a majority of the Security Council 15-members on their side and Tharoor lagged behind Moon by two votes before finally overcoming a veto from France. In the end, Ban ki-Moon won with 14 votes and Tharoor left the UN in 2007, before successfully campaigning and winning the Lok Sabha election from Thiruvananthapuram

Hindustan Times reached out to Tharoor to comment on Moon’s statement but didn’t receive any response.

Tharoor isn’t the only high profile diplomat to figure in Moon’s memoir. The book also mentions his run-in with India’s envoy to the UN about restructuring peacekeeping forces. “Indian Ambassador Nirupam Sen even criticized me publicly, telling a New York Times journalist, “the secretary-general is not the king and the member states are not the subjects of the king. Upon my complaint, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh later sent his senior advisor to apologize, and he recalled Ambassador Sen soon afterwards,’’ he writes without naming the messenger despatched by PM Singh.

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    Sunetra Choudhury is the National Political Editor of the Hindustan Times. With over two decades of experience in print and television, she has authored Black Warrant (Roli,2019), Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous (Roli,2017) and Braking News (Hachette, 2010). Sunetra is the recipient of the Red Ink award in journalism in 2016 and Mary Morgan Hewett award in 2018.

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