Shashi Tharoor tweets on Kumbh: Once again, smart aleck-ness drowns smartness

In the Sabarimala case, Tharoor said faith is above SC verdicts. Surely, faith should also be above poor jokes?

 |  3-minute read |   31-01-2019
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Shashi Tharoor is a smart man. Rather, he is a perspicacious, sagacious gent. But there is a thin line between smart and smart alecky. Tharoor recently crossed that line, by 280 characters.

Trying to take a potshot at the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Tharoor shared a picture of the CM with his cabinet colleagues taking a dip in the Kumbh, with the caption: ‘Want to clean the Ganga, but also want to wash off sins in it. Everyone is naked in this sangam. Jai Mother Ganga’.

This is a classic case of throwing the Yogi out with the Ganga water.

Tharoor presumably wished to mock only his political opponent, but chose a sensitive subject to make a joke, and obviously ruffled a lot of feathers — not just saffron-coloured.

Now, of course, you are free to joke about anything you want. In fact, there is an entire angst-industry that runs on how ‘only Hindu icons are made fun of’.

But Tharoor, apart from being a wise man, also calls himself a religious man.

He writes long, erudite articles on his ‘Hindu-ness’. He has started talking more on such subjects since his book Why I am a Hindu came out, but that’s probably coincidence.

Recently, he declared religious sentiments to be apparently more important than the rule of law. In yet another of his long and erudite articles, this time on Sabarimala, he wrote: “…abstract notions of constitutional principle also have to pass the test of societal acceptance — all the more so when they are applied to matters of faith… These are questions of faith, not rationality, and susceptible to emotion, not reason.”

Tharoor was being considerate about the faith of his constituents in Kerala. As these lines admirably demonstrate, the Thiruvananthapuram MP understands that some beliefs are dearer than reason.

Respect for 'faith' can't be restricted to one's constituency. Respect for 'faith' can't be restricted to one's constituency. (Photo: PTI/file)

If Tharoor can risk his ‘liberal’ badge to defend the stand that some feelings are above court verdicts, surely he understands that those feelings are above not-even-witty jokes? Or is it that only his constituents’ faith deserves respect, while others’ beliefs can be mocked?

We can understand Tharoor doesn’t like what Yogi Adityanath stands for. But he should learn to shoot at the target, and not make his own self collateral damage.

Maybe he should learn from Om Prakash Rajbhar. The president of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party may not share Tharoor’s eloquence, but this time, he nailed it. Commenting on the same subject, he said: “The ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government had gone for a holy dip at the Sangam on Tuesday for washing their sins…going back on promises made to the public is also a sin and the ministers have tried to wash it through a dip in the Sangam.”

Not only did Rajbhar keep his attack squarely on the politicians, he also managed to remind people of the snark Union minister Nitin Gadkari recently threw at his own party.

Rajbhar 2, Tharoor 0.

Of course, this is not the first time Tharoor’s wordplay has played out as a controversy. In 2009, asked if he would travel cattle class, Tharoor had tweeted: “Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows!”

In nine long years, Tharoor did not learn that wisecracks are not always wise, specially for an elected politician.

And that is the naked truth.

Also read: Cow walks into Pravasi Bharatiya Divas venue: Big security breach – of the cow


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