For quite some time now, Shashi tharoor’s tweets have been causing a furore in the Indian political circles and the media has as usual blown it out of proportion. For the uninitiated, Tharoor is what we call a twitterati, the elite class of twitter with a huge number of followers. First it was holy cows and cattle class and more recently, the new Visa regulations. Tharoor started tweeting quite some time ago, but his 140 character messages were considered harmless by the party, a little irritating perhaps. The storm started with his first controversial tweet, when he said that he is happy to travel ‘cattle class’ in solidarity with the ‘holy cows’. This was in response to a query on whether he would also travel in economy class under the congress party’s austerity drive. This was nothing but a simple comment, which I believe most of his followers have understood just like that. It’s a known fact that economy class is referred to as cattle class and holy cows mean, well holy cows. It has got nothing to do with the other holy cow that the opposition keeps fighting for nor has he insulted the cattle (PETA’s been silent on this issue). The same storm became a tornado with his second controversial tweet about the new Visa regulations where he didn’t support the government’s decision and pointed to the fact that the perpetrators of the 26/11 attacks did not have any Visas. Now, what party line did Tharoor cross with this comment? Anyone with a reasonable thinking power must understand that what he said (or tweeted, in this case) was absolute common sense. Tightening Visa rules will only harm the ‘Incredible India’ brand value and reduce tourists. It’s the coast guard that needs to be strengthened to protect the coasts from infiltration by sea. Tharoor has been quoted saying that he spends 15 to 20 minutes on twitter and that some people spend more time in the bathroom. This was in response to allegations that he wastes his time by being on twitter.
Shashi Tharoor is a seasoned diplomat but not a seasoned politician. It’s unfortunate that he is not familiar with all these ‘politically correct’ ways of doing things. In today’s online era, Twitter is a tool to connect with people. For someone tech savvy and with a significant online presence like Tharoor, it’s an obvious choice that can easily connect him with his ‘followers’. By ‘followers’, I mean the middle class educated Indians who follow him in real life, as well as twitter. By the way, for those of you wondering why he is not on Facebook, it protocol. All Indian netas holding any official post are not allowed to use sites like Orkut or Facebook. All leaders must use technology to connect with the masses. Imagine if Indian railways (or Mamata banerjee) were on twitter! After all Shashi Tharoor is not someone who has politics in his blood like some of the congress elite. He has climbed the political ladder based solely on his hard work and qualifications. Shashi Tharoor is one of the most qualified people to be a politician at the centre as of today. So if he’s tweeting his views and actions, let him do it; for democracy’s sake. Everything that he tweets is his own point of view, and must be respected coming from a highly qualified diplomat like him. Tharoor speaks his mind, and doesn’t read out at press conferences from speeches prepared by professional speech writers; unlike our less educated netas. Those who have been vocal against Tharoor are nothing but jealous that a first time MP has been catapulted into ministership, that too without any family name to speak off. They must keep the fact in mind that he is one of the best diplomats this country has ever produced and the highest ranking Indian in an UN official post. The congress must be proud that they have a leader who has taken a step forward towards moderneity. As for Mr. Tharoor, he must acknowledge the fact that Actions speak louder than tweets, even if the tweets reach more than six lakh people. I have been staying in Trivandrum for the last one and a half year and it’s unfortunate that this city (Mr. Tharoor’s constituency) is the most underdeveloped state capital south of the Vindhyas. I remember the time when Tharoor ordered all his posters removed from the streets after he was elected. This shows us his responsible nature. It’s unfortunate indeed that he has done nothing notable for his constituency till now. So, along with tweeting about current affairs, it would be good if he would concentrate a little on developing his constituency too.
The writer is a Andhra Pradesh based correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz