– By Sanjay Jha
It started with a standard innocuous private decision of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor to stay in a five-star hotel pending the refurbishment of his allotted government bungalow. Suddenly all hell broke loose as if a dreaded terrorist had just sneaked into Central Hall of the Indian Parliament for a quick cappuccino. Besides being publicly chastised for his errant ways the man who almost became the Secretary General of the United Nations was thereafter followed with relentless energy especially in his now celebrated Twitter. Tharoor can rightfully claim an equity stake from Twitter promoters should India emerge as it’s new bastion as the MOS for External Affairs has done wonders for the brand.
Ever since the initial brouhaha Tharoor’s every tweet has been conveniently hyped, twisted and turned to give the erudite gentleman an image of being the Grand Old Party’s problem child. Tharoor’s repeated insistence that he was merely exciting a debate on his Twitter was met with circumspection if not cynicism. I think the general media believes that Tharoor is just seeking cheap publicity , so why not give it to him with a convoluted slant ? The Times of India’s front-page Sunday buffet and Monday’s continued platter reveals a chronically obsessed media that is clearly twiddling it’s thumbs “ majorly” – the latter being a particularly popular term with many from TOI albeit I am still to find it in either the Chambers or Oxford dictionary as of 11.58 am on January 11th 2010.
I think the Indian media has taken a selective near-animus against Tharoor because Tharoor is just not the conventional politician that you can happily quiz without doing your own homework properly. Politicians like Mani Shankar Aiyer ( he was brilliant in CNN-IBNs Devil’s Advocate swapping seats with Karan Thapar) , Kapil Sibal, Jairam Ramesh, Arun Jaitley, Abhishek Singhvi are invariably a constant pleasure to hear irrespective of whether you agree with them or otherwise. Tharoor brings with him the added flavors of being tongue-in-cheek, globally recognized, author of several books with interests ranging from Bollywood, cricket, culture, politics to international relations, internet savvy, articulate and always thinking out of the box irrespective of the consequent risks in the sensitive area of inner party protocol that he occasionally takes. Yet ironically, more than the Congress party it is our old fashioned media mind-set that finds Tharoor an iconoclast. I wonder if he gives some of our stalwarts an inferiority complex?
Perhaps the fact that Tharoor also has a dapper personality and a charming presence also hurts.
Time(s) to grow up a wee bit!