Tharoor logs out

Minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, had no option but to resign when it became clear that his ‘mentoring’ of the Kochi IPL team was not out of love of cricket or for his constituency, but had a personal angle in it. He did not disclose his personal interest in the beginning and when IPL commissioner Lalit Modi made it public for his own reasons, Tharoor had no good defence.  There was no reason to believe that the minister’s intervention had nothing to do with the allotment of stake worth Rs 70 crore in the company that won the bid to his friend, Sunanda Pushkar, especially as her background did not greatly qualify her for that nor her ‘contribution’ in winning the bid. The allotment was also illegal, and she got a special consideration. The decision to give up the equity made it worse. If she actually deserved it, why should she give it up? The point is that the minister’s friend benefited from these improprieties because of her closeness to him.

That made Tharoor’s position completely untenable. His explanatory statement in parliament, which was a bland denial full of generalities, was not convincing. He did go too far, was not completely transparent in his conduct, and even tried to suppress truth. And it was also not the first time that he was creating a flutter as a minister. But the earlier controversies had more to do with his choice of words, and he could be even excused for naivete or lack of experience. But the latest had misconduct written on it, with a tag of many crores hanging from it and a dubious, though unclear, motive at the heart of it.

Tharoor, writer, intellectual and international civil servant who once aspired to become the world’s top diplomat, was  a disappointment in about a year of his political and ministerial life. The man who was once named a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum has even become a comic figure. He was an outsider who came into politics, lived in a different world through his twitters and created even doubts about his sense of belonging and seriousness of purpose. There is a possibility that he did not know how the Indian system works. But that is immaterial. He acted wrongly and had to pay the price for it.

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