BLF: Wit, sarcasm mark Tharoor’s session

The Congress MP talked about his book ‘The Paradoxical Prime Minister’ and took potshots at Narendra Modi

The crowd heard in silence, nodded in agreement, smiled in appreciation and applauded with vigour as the speaker eloquently combined politics and literature in his session. 

The setting was the first session on the second day of the Bangalore Literature Festival and the speaker was Shashi Tharoor. That the session by the handsome greying politician was one of the highlights of the event was evident from the huge number of people who sacrificed a lazy Sunday to hear him speak.

Tharoor was talking about his new book ‘The Paradoxical Prime Minister’ that has caused waves in the literary and political circles even before its release.

He spoke about the concerns that have arisen in Modi’s India and criticised the Prime Minister for taking hasty decisions without considering their impact on the country as a whole.

One example he gave was Modi’s sudden decision to visit the then Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in 2015 and said that the decision was such a quick one that even the Islamabad High Commissioner couldn’t come in time to visit Modi.

A dash of sarcasm served with wit

Tharoor lost no oppurtunity to make fun of or criticise Modi in the witty speech.

He coined a term called ‘Moditva’ to talk about the ruling principle behind the current regime’s thought process — A mix of Modi and Hindutva. While he admitted that even the PM’s critics would call him a very hard-working person, he wondered where and why the effort was going. 

Spotlight on Modi’s image building

Tharoor read a bit from the book where he said that a key part of Modi’s appeal was bypassing mainstream media, which he felt was unfair to him, and taking to social media to reach out to people directly.

He spoke about how the PM eclipsed Tharoor himself on Twitter as the most followed Indian politician and also dwelt on the pictures which the Prime Minister put out on social media. 

Tharoor said that the carefully selected pictures were intended to show a modern hands-on man in action; one with cosmopolitan sophistication and an image different from usual politicians and RSS workers. 

In the mood for some Khichdi?

It was a back and forth of witty repartee between Tharoor and one of the audience members that concluded the session. Tharoor spoke about how the quintessential Indian ‘thali’ was a mix and match of tasty dishes from different parts of the country. He went on to add that the country now has a regime that wants to make India a bland ‘Hindutva-made’ khichdi.

Within a few minutes, a member from the audience stood up and said that there is no credible alternative to the current NDA government and called the opposition itself a ‘badly made khichdi’. Without batting an eyelid, Tharoor said, “I want to give your grandpa’s advice — when you are sick, take khichdi.”

Tharoor went on to add that the biggest progress in the country was achieved under coalition governments. He asked people to judge by results.

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BLF: Wit, sarcasm mark Tharoor’s session

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