Tharoor's 'cattle' remark gets Cong's goat

Twittering trouble

Not quite a charitable remark from someone who is in a government that swears by the “aam aadmi.”

Just a few days after the Congress’ austerity drive forced him out of his five-star hotel room in New Delhi, Tharoor has managed to land himself in an avoidable controversy.

Tharoor, who had served in the United Nations Organisation as an Under Secretary General earlier, called economy class “cattle class” in a post on the social networking site Twitter.

The Congress, which, of late, has been prodding ministers to fly economy class, strongly disapproved of the remark on Wednesday and termed it “insensitive” and “unacceptable”.

The minister’s tweet came soon after party president Sonia Gandhi herself flew to Mumbai and Bangalore on economy class last Monday and Tuesday, respectively. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, too, travelled by a train to Ludhiana in Punjab on Tuesday.

“We totally condemn it (the comment of Tharoor). The statement is not in sync with our political culture. His remarks are not acceptable given the sensitivity of all Indians,” Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan said at a news conference at the party headquarters here.

Tharoor was asked on Twitter if he would fly to his home-state Kerala next time. He tweeted back: “Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows.” Clearly, he did not favour milking the government.

The Congress, understandably, was not amused by his tongue-in-cheek reply. Sources said that the decision to publicly disapprove of Tharoor’s remark came from the party leadership.

“Certainly, the party does not endorse it. We find it unacceptable and totally insensitive,” said Natarajan.

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