New Delhi: Uncertainty loomed over the political future of minister of state for external affairs Shashi Tharoor, whose Twitter message on economy-class travel triggered a controversy, with the Congress party announcing on Friday that “appropriate action” will be taken against him at the “appropriate time”.
Tharoor’s Twitter remarks came at a time when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is promoting austerity measures, with its leaders being asked to travel economy class.
While Tharoor, who is on an official visit to Liberia and Ghana, has since apologized, through a message on Twitter for his earlier remarks on “cattle-class” travel, Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “such remarks are bound to get reactions. Congress will take appropriate action at the appropriate time”.
Apologizing for his remarks, Tharoor said on the social networking site: “It’s a silly expression but meant no disrespect to economy travellers, only to airlines for herding us in like cattle. Many have misunderstood… To those hurt by the belief that my repeating the phrase showed contempt: sorry.”
The minister added: “I now realize I shouldn’t assume people will appreciate humour. And you shouldn’t give those who would willfully distort your words an opportunity to do so. He explained that his controversial tweet was a reply to a journalist’s query whether he would travel to Kerala in “cattle class”.
Tharoor’s remark that he would travel “cattle class in solidarity with all our holy cows”, had come a day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi travelled by economy class in a flight to Mumbai to set an example for the party to follow austerity measures that could help the government redirect funds for welfare programmes in the wake of deficient rains.
Meanwhile, Rajasthan chief minister and senior Congress leader Ashok Gehlot said the minister should submit his resignation for his “irresponsible” comments. Gehlot said: “It was unfortunate and unbecoming on his part to make such comments. In my view, he should tender his resignation as minister…”