Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has shocked many Indians with his recent comments on women’s entry into the Sabarimala shrine, given how meticulously he had built an image of being a 'liberal'.
A little digging would, however, expose how Tharoor’s 'liberal' image is apparently built on convenient quicksand.
1) Sabarimala temple
Tharoor is all for women's empowerment — but he also thinks the women of reproductive age who are trying to enter the Sabarimala temple are indulging in deliberate provocation.
The Congress leader has criticised the two women who made history by entering the Sabarimala shrine this week, saying that though he is all for women's empowerment, it is a matter of the 'sanctity' of the temple. According to this liberal thinker, women of reproductive age who would go to Sabarimala would be women who do not believe in the Ayyappa legend.
Shashi Tharoor has called the entry of two women into the Sabarimala temple 'deliberate provocation'. (Source: India Today)
He doesn’t seem to care about how religious legends have been biased against women — as have been the many tenets of religion, always scripted by men.
Would Tharoor care to explain how he is any different then from the bigoted men (and women) who have been trying to further marginalise women on issues of ‘purity’ and religion?
Isn't that an impure thought, Mr Tharoor?
2) MP salaries
In February 2018, Tharoor was seen siding with the Narendra Modi-led government on the doubling of MP salaries.
The only party to have openly criticised the move was the Trinamool Congress which said that lawmakers are “getting enough”.
But the Thiruvananthapuram MP said, “MP salaries are ridiculously inadequate. It would be hypocritical to criticize a salary increase unless you can come up with a formula for doing all that an MP is expected to do within this amount.
According to the data released by the Association for Democratic Reforms in 2014, Tharoor was among the top three richest candidates with a declared net worth of Rs 23.02 crore. People like Tharoor, experienced, educated and aware, who enter politics will have us believe they do so because they are driven by a desire for social service. But crorepatis batting for salary hikes as MPs makes such social service appear a somewhat hypocritical exercise.
3) Cattle class remark
The liberal Mr Tharoor exposed a streak of elitism way back in 2009, when he mocked the middle class by saying he would travel “cattle class” in solidarity with all our “holy cows”.
@KanchanGupta absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows!— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 14, 2009
The comment drew flak not just from the Opposition parties, but also from his own party. Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan said the party strongly disapproved of the expression “cattle class.”
Shashi Tharoor's 'cattle class' remark left even the Congress leadership miffed. (Source: PTI)
Now, we'd believe that the affluent Mr Tharoor needs a salary hike apparently because he needs to travel business class — but to call ordinary folks who live within their means ‘holy cows’ is just insensitive for a liberal batting for an egalitarian society.
4) Modi is like scorpion sitting on Shivling
Forget all the promises liberals make about not denigrating the level of public discourse which, they are the first to point out, is already alarmingly low. At a recent public event, Tharoor couldn’t resist the temptation of bringing an apparently personal dislike for Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the fore.
“Modi is like a scorpion sitting on a Shivling. You cannot remove him with your hand and you cannot hit it with a 'chappal' (slipper) either,” Tharoor said.
His ticket to redemption — he was only quoting an RSS leader.
If Tharoor had not been a politician, he could have been a journalist, for he sure knows the trick of attributing to others what you are dying to say, but can’t.
5) Why I am a Hindu
In our secular scoiety, religion was supposed to be a personal matter — till people realised it could be traded for votes.
Tharoor has reportedly been at the forefront of the Congress’ project that aims to change the party’s image from being pro-Muslim to one that espouses soft Hindutva.
We expected Tharoor to ensure that religion remained in people’s private domain — an educated liberal that he is.
He has turned to be just another politician who can be anything the moment demands, from an elitist to a patriarch women dread.
Why the double-speak, Mr Tharoor?