“Dear Mr Narendra Modi, My Wife Is Priceless”: The Battle Of Words Between Shashi Tharoor And Narendra Modi

Posted on November 5, 2012 in Politics at Play

By Bhaskar H. Narula:

The battle of words is the fiercest form of fight known to mankind. Before the cannons knock down nations, words come as a warning. Right from the Sino-India War to political gimmicks, words mark their own importance. One such instance has been highlighted by an exchange of words between the current Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr. Narendra Modi and the not-so-politically strong Mr. Shashi Tharoor and his wife Mrs. Sunanda Tharoor.

Confusion was triggered when the newly appointed HRD Minister Shashi Tharoor responded to the Chief Minister’s tweet. The previous week, Mr. Narendra Modi boasted on Twitter about the fact that he had crossed the one million followers mark. His tweet received a sarcastic response by Mr. Tharoor who tweeted, “Alas, most of the followers aren’t fans“. The following week, the Gujarat’s Chief Minister had a poll rally in Himachal Pradesh owing to the upcoming elections. In his speech, Mr. Modi said some distasteful words about Mrs. Sunanda Tharoor. He said, “Bhaiyo aur behno, bata deejiye, is desh mein kabhi kisine pachas karor ki girlfriend dekhi hain? Pachas karor ki girlfriend? Ye garib desh mein” (Brothers and sisters, has anybody ever seen a girlfriend worth 50 crores in this country of ours? In this poor country). The message he wanted to convey was in regard to the current reshuffle of the cabinet which appointed Mr. Shashi Tharoor as the HRD Minister.

The derogatory remark illustrates a number of things. It is a direct pot-shot on the way the government elects representatives for the cabinet and also shows how politically and morally insincere the minister of Gujarat is towards women and their respect. Mr. Modi who is famous for curbing corruption in Gujarat and is a figure who stands tall in the 2014 elections, indeed pointed out some dreaded aspects of politics, although in a wrong way. Mr. Shashi Tharoor, once the External Affairs Minister of State in 2009 was asked to step down owing to the allegations on his then girlfriend, Ms. Sunanda Pushkar who is now Mrs. Sunanda Tharoor. She had an 18% stake, amounting to 70 crores in the Kochi IPL Team. This controversy of 2009-10 came into the fore when the organizers refused to publicize the names of the stake-holders of the team. Tharoor and Pushkar were accused of amassing wealth from cricket worth around Rupees 50 crores which has been a reason for direct reference by Mr. Modi. The mist of allegations against the duo is still not clear and despite everything, Mr. Shashi Tharoor is found taking an oath in the Rashtrapati Bhawan. Mr. Modi’s comment therefore indeed is a slap on the face of the government which has elected Mr. Tharoor without considering the previous charges against him.

On the other hand, Mr. Modi’s comment is also a matter of shame for the people of Gujarat. It shows how disrespectful the minister is towards women. Sometime back, Mr Narendra Modi was found blaming women’s beauty consciousness for the government’s inability in eliminating malnutrition from the state. Now, following this derogatory comment by Mr. Modi, Mr. Tharoor came back fiercely and defended his wife by tweeting, “My wife is worth a lot more than your imaginary 50 crores. She is priceless. But you need to be able to love someone to understand that”. Mrs. Tharoor has also responded blandly to Mr. Modi’s comment. Mrs Tharoor is not expecting any apology from the minister however, she has asked him to show some respect to women and to not stoop to such low levels. Mrs. Tharoor further added that she could not expect apologies out of a person who is still ignorant towards the issue of the killings of several Gujarati’s in the 2002 riots.

According to me the sentiment is political. Mr. Tharoor, who was already undergoing an investigation was pledging for a new ministerial post and Mr. Modi was apparently concerned about the same. However, his retaliation has earned him a tag of an uncivilized politician who, on several occasions has been accused of disrespecting women. The Gujarat Congress President Mr. Arjun Modhvadia added bitter flavours to the controversy. According to a statement he made in The Hindu, the most popular bachelor of Gujarat was once married to Jashodaben, but she was left in lurch soon afterwards.

As I said earlier, debates begin with unattended words. Expression of thought is certainly free in India but you need to keep a tab on it for maintaining the dignity of your profession and harmony in society. Let us hope our politicians are well versed with the sense of respect towards women as they are towards corruption and scams.

Note: This article has been featured on the author’s personal blog

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