Indian Express & Shashi Tharoor – is it Personal ?

I really don’t believe in too many conspiracy theories. This entire idea that various systems might be conspiring to get an individual out seems kind of far fetched.

But, in the recent past I have been questioning why the Indian Express has taken it upon it self to target Shashi Tharoor – the minister for external affairs ? Has Mr.Tharoor offended someone in the IE or is the IE working on someone else’s behalf to discredit Mr. Tharoor – because front page attention on, what can be most charitably described as trivialities, seems like an orchestrated witch hunt .

It started with the IE “exposing” the fact that Tharoor and his boss, SM Krishna, were staying in 5 star luxury.

Austere Ministers: Krishna at Maurya, Tharoor at Taj – screamed the headline, and when you read the article closely it tuns out that it was two rich ministers paying for their own comforts.

For over three months now, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna is at ITC’s Maurya on Sardar Patel Marg and his junior Shashi Tharoor at Hotel Taj Mahal on Man Singh Road. Both pay their own bills but neither of them — nor the hotels — say how much they have paid so far.

According to their poll affidavits, Krishna has assets worth Rs 18 crore and Tharoor Rs 15 crore.

Why is someone spending their own money is news is beyond me – if it was Tax payer’s money I would understand – but their own money seemed kind of inexplicable.

It followed up the story the next day, with Tharoor needs Taj for gym, privacy — and a govt-funded Iftaar today

The “gym and some privacy” keep Shashi Tharoor at a suite in the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi. On Wednesday, the Minister of State for External Affairs is hosting an Iftaar party from 6.15 pm at the Diwan-i-Aam of the hotel.

Invites have been sent out by the Ministry — the cards carry the national emblem, mention the MEA’s Protocol division and list its telephone numbers under RSVP.

tucked in at the end, is the line

“It has been a tradition to host an Iftaar party for envoys of the Gulf countries by the MoS in-charge during Ramzan, said sources. “

So the iftaar party is not for friends and family, but for envoys of countries that India has trade and commercial relations ! Official work, not personal.

Then, the following day was an item, that could be seen as further embarrassing External Affairs Ministers – Krishna, Shashi take note: How nine of your colleagues live

While External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and his deputy Shashi Tharoor turned 5-star hotel suites into temporary homes, their nine colleagues, still waiting for official accommodation, settled for single rooms in state Bhawans and PSU guest houses in New Delhi

And then, was yesterday’s bit of pontificating

At these moments, affluence becomes unaesthetic. A display of an affluent lifestyle seems crass and indifferent, possessing a nouveau riche loudness that is difficult to take. It is a behaviour that demands immediate downsizing in a literal and symbolic sense. But Krishna and his deputy behaved like rich Rip Van Winkles, unaware that drought and recession had struck the land. It was a sense of arrogance and individualism that made them indifferent to the dialects of protest and pain in the bazaar of politics.

People should realize, that in times of recession, consumption helps. Instead of vilifying the ministers for spending their own money – maybe you should commend them for doing their patriotic duty to get the nation out of recession 🙂
And then, it pretty much continues in the same vein. What took the cake was this morning’s front page silliness in the Indian Express

Of course, Mr. Tharoor has not helped his cause by being smart on Twitter with Kanchan Gupta – Shooting your mouth off to journalists, on a public forum, – especially those with BJP affiliation -reeks of poor decision making. That ‘holy cow’ statement is possibly going to come back to haunt him.

But, that doesn’t take away from the fact that the IE seems to have their knives out for him. Today’s story, the one that prompted this post – is “Holy Cow! Tharoor’s OSD gives it back to his Boss’s party” – one more ‘Get Tharoor” story .

Jacob Joseph, Officer on Special Duty to the Minister of State for External Affairs, posted a picture of Tharoor asleep in an aircraft seat, with the caption “Shashi Tharoor in cattle class a month ago”.

Tharoor, currently on tour abroad, did not post any new tweets on Thursday. He last tweeted early September 16.

Jacob made public, or ‘re-tweeted’ (referred to as ‘RT’ on Twitter), comments made by other Twitter users that referred to Union ministers as “humorless twits”, and Congress spokesperson Natarajan as an example of the “outdated Indian political spokesman”.

incidentally, the minister did tweet yesterday:


So, let me ask the obvious – is the Indian Express reverting to the shoot first, figure later mode of journalism that almost brought it to its knees. Or is this a one off hatchet job on a particular minister – if so why ?


  1. Author

    The question is, why do you read the Indian Express still?

  2. Author

    hey, welcome back to this blog :):)
    i need to stop reading it.
    my folks are retired and we get 4 newspapers – sometimes if i am very bored i pick up one of them !!

  3. Author

    well, Mr. Tharoor hasn’t really helped his cause with the cattle class tweet those masala hungry media journos tongues a reason to wag a little more!!

    1. Author

      yes ! my mom had a great one liner for that – ‘convent school debater” pithy, snappy one liners that is the political equivalent of open mouth, insert foot 🙂

  4. Author

    Interesting piece. In all probability what you’ve written is true, because we are all too familiar with the hidden corporate media agenda. And when it comes to IE we know where the ink comes from, dont we?;)

    It seems Tharoor’s high profile and charisma has irked a few minds even in his own den. Our archaic politicos cant digest an imported newbie attracting the spotlight and calling the shots. So if ever there is a conspiracy it would be very difficult to track it back to its pregnancy. That’s one reason I fear this “cattle”, “holy cow” drama may hit the diplomat badly, I mean in terms of support from his partymates.

    As far as IE is concerned, I’m keeping an eye out as well after reading your article. Lets see how far this one goes! 🙂

    1. Author

      hi scorpiogenius – welcome to this blog 🙂
      i always thought that IE had very wooly politics. there was, of course, Ramnath Goenka’s myriad associations with the RSS and his choice of Arun Shourie as editor. But, it could just be that it was anti Indira Gandhi and not pro anyone !!

      I saw Shekhar Gupta as being more in favour of MMS – though on key issues he was pro Congress.

      Which is why i wonder why this tirade against poor Tharoor ! is this ‘friendly fire’ from the Congress being directed via the IE ? I can’t see any BJP gain in discrediting Tharoor ! unless, it is to give embarassment to the Government – but, there are more gaping holes to embarrass the Government with – rather than pick on what a junior minister said on a micro blogging site !

      which makes me wonder, why ???

      1. Author

        Read it together with the upcoming Assembly Elections, and Tharoor has handed a whip to the BJP to beat the Congress. So BJP could well gain from this unfortunate episode, lest I hope he won’t be made a scapegoat for this. 🙁

        1. Author

          the bulk of the electorate doesn’t read or watch English language MSM .

          in Maharashtra, the drought, agrarian debt is the issue and the scary part is that all parties appear equally inept 🙁

  5. Author

    Isn’t this the same Tharoor who wrote atrociously cringe inducing books and had the temerity to call RK Narayan prosaic?

    Such people deserve worse. In fact, his columns in NY Times very often made people in many social circles call themselves Pakistani when asked if they were from the same country.

  6. Author

    As an Indo-Canadian, I’ve been watching the debacle that has been going on with Tharoor.
    All I have to say is a man of his class, integrity and eloquence deserves better from his fellow politicians and Indians. It is apparent that his colleagues have an inferiority complex. Instead of appreciating his background as one of the top diplomats of the UN and his vast experience in world diplomatic affairs, you treat him like an ordinary Indian. He is an extra ordinary man, in an otherwise ordinary country. It would do the country good if people of his caliber were allowed to be politicians and shared that uncanny sense of humor.
    And for heaven’s sake, Indians show some class, if your external affairs minister doesn’t travel by business or first class then who will? Do you want to enter the world forum with respect or be treated as a third world nation as so many already perceive you to be. Don’t fool yourselves the racial attacks in Australia are direct repercussions on how the world perceives you (India). Don’t you think you should improve the image of India? It is in point of fact one of the cradles of civilization, yet how often do you Indians reflect it to be?
    Right now you all aren’t doing a very good job of it.
    Last of all it seems Indians have a double standard on Democracy and this is not healthy for the nation as a whole. If Tharoor spent his own money on staying at hotels for 2-3 months at a time, who are you to judge him? Just because he is a politician doesn’t give the public the right to dictate terms on what is and what isn’t acceptable with his own money. As a North American, I’m appalled to see the press not upholding the highest principals of freedom and democracy. Politicians are as much human beings as everyone else and the same standards of democracy and freedom apply to them as well. It would do some good for politicians to learn a thing or two from Tharoor, it might make the nation wiser as a whole.
    You talk of austerity? Yet India has some of the most corrupt politicians in the world with Swiss/ Cayman Island bank accounts in the tens if not hundreds and thousands. Why not expose the true charlatans instead of picking on a fine man like Tharoor for staying in a hotel using his own funds.
    Give the guy a break! He is one of the few individuals that makes India look good in public forums. If you lose him it will be a great loss as a whole to the nation.
    Will you get a sense of humor? Or is it going to be the same old slanderous talk to win cheap political points.
    Remember this, what the world perceives you to be is what you are. So it’s time to change perception!
    It’s time to take action.

  7. Author

    Gargi, the kenneyjacob linked article now shows in first page in google when ‘shashi tharoor’ is searched! Google is starange. His PR is 2 and yours is 4! Ideally it should have been your post!

  8. Author

    Interesting. So does IE believe that readers only read their headlines and not the full story?

  9. Author


    Sashi Tharoor is NOT an ordinary Indian. He has a proven management capability. The “HOLY COWS” are afraid he is going to overtake them. There are many “holy cows” of his own party who did not like him contesting and winning a seat at the first attempt with an electrifying victory. Though the high command picked him, it was the citizens who voted him. Those disgusting “holy cows” – like Jayanti Natarajan did not like it.

    It is a pity that papers like Indian Express dance to the tune of those who are scared of efficient people like Mr. Tharoor.

    Do not worry Mr. Tharoor ! Keep going ! The country needs extra-ordinary Indians like you. Not HOLY COWS on the streets !!

    I expect more and more stumbling blocks on your path…but I have the confidence that you can over come them. The voters are with you. Just keep at least 50% of your promise to them, and they will be with you for ever. We need you.

    – Vimal

  10. Author

    i agree with rohan
    Tharoor seems to be an asset to the nation, and at least he works and performs, unlike many in the cwc and cabinet.

    on the express campaign , it is not very strange its more plain and simple, Shekhar Gupta is no Ramnath Goenka… if there are handful bjp branded journos, there are also bucket loads of pro congress pro ng family journos and he is just one of them.

  11. Author

    I’m getting this major urge to go all McCarthy on Shiv Visvanathan for writing this “But Krishna and his deputy behaved like rich Rip Van Winkles, unaware that drought and recession had struck the land. It was a sense of arrogance and individualism that made them indifferent to the dialects of protest and pain in the bazaar of politics.”

    Too much is friggin sacred in India.

    @Nilu (if I may) What’s wrong with Tharoor criticizing RK Narayan?

    As I was saying, too much is friggin sacred in India.

  12. Author

    Sriram Venkitachalam, with a name like that, I suggest you stop using “friggin”.

  13. Author

    In future if you get a chance Hon’ble post of Indian President or Primeminister,more like that Hon’ble post?why selection that post?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *