New Delhi: Shashi Tharoor’s stint of less than a year as a union minister was dogged by a spate of controversies from his stay in a five star hotel to the high-voltage IPL row involving him and Sunanda Pushkar, whom he reportedly intends to marry.
Criticised for his tweets on a host of issues, including government policy matters, Tharoor often escaped from any severe action both from the Congress party as well as the government.
His tryst with controversies began with his stay at a luxury hotel instead of the official accomodation which became an embarrassment issue for the party that swore by ‘aam aadmi’ in the elections and had launched an austerity drive.
This resulted in senior minister Pranab Mukherjee asking him and his senior S M Krishna to vacate the luxury hotel rooms for which they claimed they were paying from their pocket.
Tharoor defended himself, saying that it was because of the delay in getting his official residence ready. And he also complained that there was no gym facility in the official residence.
In the wake of restrictions on luxury class flying due to the austerity drive, he courted another controversy by his remarks on Twitter in which he described the economy class as “cattle class”.
This set off another round of criticism that he was not following political descipline and party ethos.
However, this was subsequently resolved when the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh treated it as a comment made in a lighter vein. Tharoor met his party leadership and had to offer them an explanation.
Before this could simmer down, yet another controversy erupted when Tharoor said people should be working on Gandhi Jayanti rather than staying at home thereby paying real homage to Mahatma Gandhi.
Tharoor was in the news again for publicly criticising the new visa guidelines adopted by the Government in the wake of the gaps exposed by the arrest of 26/11 terror suspects, David Headley and Tahawwur Rana.
For this, he was criticized for breaking ranks with the official position of the Government. He was later called by his senior minister S M Krishna who asked him not to air his views on government policies at a public forum.
In January 2010, Tharoor was also criticised for his views, expressed at a public function, on Nehru for his vision on Indian foreign policy.
Responding to the criticism, Tharoor issued a clarification, apparently to mollify his own party as some of its members were up in arms against him.