It all started with this innocuous exchange between Kanchan Gupta, a prominent columnist who writes for the Pioneer, and Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for External Affairs, an avid Twitter user and the current media blue-eyed boy (my wife’s expression).
One tweet and from a media darling he has become a pariah, and this was bound to happen, and I wonder why he, or anybody else for that matter, never saw it coming (I’ll explain later). And the most appalling aspect of all this is, "cattle class" wasn’t even his expression, he was simply replying to Kanchan Gupta’s tweet: it was a simple exchange between two individuals that was blown out of proportion by the media as well as politicians. Go through various online links of newspapers and TV channels and nobody mentions even once that the expression did not originate from him.
About cattle class, 60 years of Congress governance has made sure that a majority of Indian citizens live like cattle. May be the expression touches a sore spot. May be the party has a ghost of a conscience by a freak chance.
Anyway, back to why they should have seen it coming. The days of individual politicians have gone. Most political parties in India thrive on the halos created around particular families and individuals, and all other members have to operate from under their shadow. Just look what happened to Jaswant Singh. After writing the book, he became an individual and moved outside of the shadow.
Similarly, the Congress party workers have to work within the shadow boundary of the Gandhi family. By using Twitter, by articulating his thoughts, by directly interacting with the common folks Tharoor is building his own mass base people have begun to adore him and perhaps in the process, have begun to neglect the other blue-eyed boy, Rahul G. Now how can this be tolerated in a party where sycophancy is religion and the 3 Gandhis at the helm are no less than gods?
So in the guise of austerity and an abstract tweet, he is being targeted by his own party men and women, and soon they will be competing with each other just to show how loyal they are to the real blue-eyed trinity.
According to his latest tweets Shashi Tharoor has apologized, and in a country where words and rhetoric matter more than reality, he has done the right thing. Ours is a strange country. Speak truth and people will lunge at your throat; feed them with pleasant lies and they will fall on your feet.