Has Shashi Tharoor dug his own political grave?

April 20, 2010

Is it too early to write the political obituary of Shashi Tharoor, who over the weekend resigned from the post of junior foreign minister not even a year into holding the post?

Shashi TharoorSome commentators have already written him off. Others, including a report in the Hindustan Times on Tuesday, cite Congress party sources to say Tharoor has not lost all the goodwill of the leadership and could one day make a comeback.

His resignation, so they say, had more to do with Congress not wanting to be seen to let Tharoor get away with it.

Tharoor submitted his resignation amid opposition accusations he had used his political clout to help influence a $333 million bid for the Kochi team in the Indian Premier League.

He was also accused of helping score a $15 million stake in the team for a woman widely described as his girlfriend.

In his statement to parliament last week, Tharoor denied any wrongdoing and, as part of his rebuttal, referred to his high-profile career in the United Nations where he at one stage was a contender for the top spot of Secretary General.

“I have had a three-decade career in international public service that has never been sullied by the slightest taint of financial wrongdoing,” he said.

The irony is palpable. Ahead of the election last year, some had predicted Tharoor the author, the debonair diplomat with a large fan base on Twitter and a love of P.G. Wodehouse, was not cut out for the grubby world of Indian politics.

The reform-minded Tharoor, tipped by some for a more senior role, if and when Congress party scion Rahul Gandhi ever takes over as Prime Minister, was often in the headlines for the wrong reasons in his year in power.

His Twitter account — for some a symbol of his progressiveness in a parliament mostly populated by ageing men — sparked a series of controversies in which he was seen to be attacking anybody from the Congress leadership to Mahatma Gandhi.

Rightly or wrongly, Tharoor fell from grace in just the kind of controversy one could associate with a career politician, but may have lacked a career politician’s support base.

Siddharth Varadarajan wrote in the Hindu newspaper on Tuesday an article on Tharoor’s “paratrooping” into Indian politics:

“What made his jump even more dangerous was that it was made without the safety net that grassroot experience or backroom goodwill provides. By the standards of Indian politics, his impropriety in the IPL affair was relatively minor; but unlike others whose warts catch the glare of the arclights from time to time, there was nobody willing to pad up for him when the media drew blood.

“Fatally injured, he stood his ground just a moment too long. Had he walked back to the pavilion unprompted, he might have survived to play a second innings. But he didn’t do that. Which is why his political career is today at an end.”

Is it?


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If he really has the political backing he is supposed to have (that of the first family?) he will be back before we begin to miss him – as soon as he is cleared of any misdemeanours. But the question as asked by a weekly will remain.Is he misunderstood or a misfit? Probably both.

Posted by VipulTripathi | Report as abusive

It is very unfortunate that Shashi Tharoor,himself a political novice and a renegede Indian politico who long missed the local power politics, was sacrificed for a trivial cause. The ruling manmohan singh government would truly rue its hasty decision and the opposition its mindless opposition to shashi tharoor in the days and weeks to come when the IPL scandal would explode on everyone’s face.
With a stature as his, Shashi Tharoor had no business in the first place to demean himself by joining a political party in the country. He is no politico but a great bueaucrat of global standing a capacity in which he would have served his mother nation better. Now that by providence he is out of the cesspool of politics he should concentrate on providing the intellectual leadership to the directionless youth being wooed by an aggressive campaign to foist a sophisticated Gandhi clan member as a icon of poor. The opposition political parties so keen to oust Shashi Tharoor should now learn from their mistake and back Shashi Tharoor in his mission to lead the Indian youth and rid the nation of blatant power politics.

Posted by ATR124 | Report as abusive

His saving grace would have been, if other than controversies, he also had some worthwhile accomplishments to talk about, or tweet about.

Posted by Raven21 | Report as abusive

Tharoor has stepped down. He will step away from the media glare and get “resurrected” in 6-9 months or maybe a year. There are many who have taken that route and survived. If he had stuck around now, the baggage would’ve weighed him down even more. What’s an IPL or a month or a year when he’s here to play Test matches?

Posted by yadayadayada | Report as abusive

We are living in denial. Mayawati accepts and wears a python of a garland made of currency notes yet no visible action has been taken against this obvious display of wealth. Tharoor has not found his foothold yet, probably has a chip on his shoulder about turning around a political system that has weathered more storms than the combined age of its ageing representatives. If the IPL controversy had not hit the Congress minister, his outspokenness would eventually have been his pitfall.

Posted by Rituparna | Report as abusive

I am a bit biased towards Tharoor, probably because he hails from Kerala too. Even so, I agree he’s a political novice and should lie low — he has the potential to do wonders in Indian politics but so far has only succeeded in courting controversy. If only he kept his mouth and the Twitter trap shut…

Posted by ToeKnee | Report as abusive

Tharoor seriously could not have thought he could change Indian polity through twitter. I think he was being a bit too radical and foolish from the start. Look where it landed him. Next time, Mr Minister take it slow and easy and hopefully controversy free.

Posted by nban | Report as abusive

@Toeknee: I don;t think it matters where he comes from. That’s somewhat parochial. Nonetheless, IPL has been a money-minting machine from the very beginning. Imagine bringing a cricket league to people’s homes, where matches last no longer than 3 hours mostly, and throw in lots of scantily-clad cheerleaders. It would convert even a non-cricket watcher to a maniac, no? As far as Tharoor is concerned, he speaks well. and tweets well too. But that’s about it I would say. He would now have to truly prove his mettle all over again. But like Toeknee said, Tharoor should indeed have kept his trap shut. and stayed away from twitter too.

Posted by gogunners | Report as abusive

“Wrong person, on wrong position at very wrong time”…
I will say that about Mr Tharoor.
He deserved a better treatment from the one of the biggest democracy of the world.
I never feel a bad feeling about his political fate, which caused a doomsday to him, and all the progressive, auspecious, well being aspiring citizens of India.
Becuase of the reason, one cannot be sole prgressive thinking mentality with all other over aged burdens.
Also, Shakespeare told once so right,”Minority can be wrong, but majority is always wrong…”

Mr. Tharoor, best of luck next time. We want you to our nation, but, now She is not ready with Her other children who still prefers dal over sandwich.

Posted by mujeebpatla1 | Report as abusive

Mr. Tharoor may not have done anything wrong in this particular case. He is sacked by people who are jealous and scared off – what will happen in the future when he will be a senior cabinet minister. They used the opportunity.

Tharoor is not a true patriot of India. He is also an opportunist. He could not get the post of Secretary General of UN – the next choice was to be a Cabinet minister in India. Then move to the Secretary General post. A patriot will not ask the Indian people to follow what Americans do when they sing their National Anthem. It was outrageous for him to go against many centuries of traditions. Even for United Nations Ambassador Nambiar should have been a better choice than Tharoor. What are the accomplishments of Tharoor?

How long did he was part of Kerala in his life? How much time he spend in Kerala?
What did he ever do for Kerala? He selected Kerala constituency because he knew he will get support.

Though I criticized him above – I am sure Tharoor will come back stronger than ever before. I hope he learned his lesson. I hope he will be loyal and patriot to Kerala and India when he returns in his glory. I wish him all the best and look forward to see his come back.

Posted by jpanicker | Report as abusive

Mr.Sashi Tharoor, is man of high caliber, but the Indian politricking he does not know, but he will learn this eventually.But UPA government want to pass their finance bill is needed a scapegoat, so Tharoor was the right candidate. That action is backfired now and more heads needed to rolled, people worse than Tharoor is in intact in the UPA government, and they cannot touch them other wise UPA will fall out.???????

Posted by kurian | Report as abusive

Mr.Sashi Tharoor as described by many others has got a very high qualification which is the only reason that he is being kicked on back again and again. Unfortunately, Indian Politicians seem to be losing their image and so they take complete advantage of the situation by spaking some or the other controversy on this “Messiah of Indian Politics”.

Also, Mr. Tharoor is not able to pass the buck since he realised sooner or later that India is a DEMOCRATIC country. And in such a country, a public servant could never make any comment which fuels even the slightest trouble possible. May be, he could have avoided this situation had he thought that this is not United Nations and that its India. Here the frequencies and attitude of the politicians are very narrow and so the slightest remark would even cost ones LIFE too!!!

Anyway may GOD save our country, if not Mr. Tharoor from all these power and money greedy politicians.

Posted by naren09 | Report as abusive

He came, he spoke, he tweeted, he created controversies and he went. His tryst with controversies cost him his job. What were these controversies?

http://india.suite101.com/article.cfm/sh ashi-tharoor—a-birds-eye-view-of-all-his -controversies

Posted by ashchow1986 | Report as abusive

Once surrounded by high-profile UN diplomats, now surrounded by controversies. He remained unfazed by all the controversies until one that cost him his job.

http://india.suite101.com/article.cfm/sh ashi-tharoor–an-elite-outsider-is-a-cont roversys-child

Posted by ashchow1986 | Report as abusive