Tharoor kicks up storm again

Tharoor kicks up storm again

Proposes Saudi Arabia as Indo-Pak interlocutor; later retracts

In comments that raised eyebrows in Indian political circles, Tharoor said, “We feel that Saudi Arabia of course has a long and close relationship with Pakistan but that makes Saudi Arabia even a more valuable interlocutor for us.” He is currently accompanying Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a three-day visit to the oil-rich kingdom.

The BJP and CPI flayed Tharoor’s remark, with the saffron party saying that his “comment is utterly irresponsible and we thoroughly condemn it. The Prime Minister should issue a clarification in Parliament on this issue”.

Earlier, in Riyadh, responding to newsmen’s questions on what kind of cooperation he expected from Riyadh considering its close relations with Islamabad, Tharoor said: “When we tell them about our experience, Saudi Arabia listens as somebody who is not in anyway an enemy of Pakistan but rather is a friend of Pakistan and therefore I am sure will listen with sympathy and concern to a matter of this nature.

Just hours after making the remarks, the minister — who has been in the thick of controversy in the past on the government’s austerity measures and immigration policy — retracted them. “No chance of my saying Saudi Arabia should be a mediator. Never said that or anything like it,” Tharoor said. Needless to say Tharoor also issued a ‘clarification’ on Twitter.

“If I speak to u,u are my interlocutor! I mentioned the Saudis as OUR interlocutors, ie the people we are here to speak to. Some misinterpretn,” he said. “Good day of mtgs, marred in some Indian media by misunderstanding of word “interlocutor”. An interlocutor is someone u spk to, nothing more,” he added.

Tharoor’s remarks were condemned by BJP as “utterly irresponsible”. “Has the statement been made with the consent of the PM? Is this a trial balloon?” BJP spokesperson Ravishankar Prasad asked. “There has been no third party mediation (between India and Pakistan). Tharoor’s remarks are an insult to India’s sovereignty. We will seek a clarification from the PM in Parliament,” the BJP leader said.

Condemning Tharoor’s statement, CPI national general secretary D Raja said the Minister statement has created confusion regarding New Delhi’s stand on Indo-Pak relations.
Although the Congress maintained a stoic silence over Tharoor’s remark, some partymen privately expressed their anger against the Minister for landing the government in trouble again.

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