Monday, March 1, 2010


Shashi Tharoor 'talks out of turn and can't help but tweet'. That has landed him in trouble on more occasion than one but, amazingly, each time, he has emerged victorious, with not a scar on his pretty face, much like Muhammad Ali, the legendary heavy weight boxer, who, they said, 'floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee', and was invincible at his peak.

After he became Minister of State in the External Affairs Ministry, Tharoor chose to stay in a five star hotel rather than in the Kerala Bhawan because, he said, the latter did not have a gymnasium and did not provide the privacy he needed. To conduct affairs of the state on Twitter, was it? The Congress High Command, then in the throes of an austerity-attack, asked him to move out and he was next seen having his meals, one at least, smile intact, in the Kerala Bhawan canteen, much like the aam aadmi whose clothes he wears there days. Perfect combination.

Forced to travel in economy class, Shashi then enraged The Holy Cow of the Congress by referring to it as 'cattle class' in a tweet to Kanchan Gupta. There was a lot of noise, both from the Left that does not associate anything holy with the cow, the Centre (Congress) that believes that only their Kamdhenu cow is holy and the Right that has patented its claim on the Hindu belief that all cows are holy. A private audience with Sonia Gandhi apart, Tharoor emerged unscathed, even stronger, from that controversy which had then inspired me to write a limerick and poem:

Feel sorry for minister-tweeter Shashi Tharoor
Who tweeted austerity was a "cattle class" rule
The enraged holy cow
Shoved a horn and how
That indiscretion in searing pain he does rue!
There was this smart guy called Tharoor
Who came to India ready to say 'Huzoor'
Not knowing then that for first class
He would soon lose his long held pass

Now no more than chattel
He has to suffer class cattle
And to the wishes of the holy cow
Morning and evening humbly bow

In December 2009, he stoked another row by using Twitter, again, to openly question his ministry's decision to tighten visa rules in the light of the David Hadley case, saying "26/11 killers had no visas." His boss, Foreign Minister did feebly assert his seniority by asking everyine in his ministry to be on the same page, but the net result was that some visa norms were actually eased. Tharoor had won again.

Within a few days, Tharoor was once again in the cross-hairs of the media that played a clipping of his speech that showed him crossing the criticising the founder of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty:“foreign policy of Nehru and Gandhi was more like a moralistic running commentary.” That was the Lakshman Rekha that should have cost Tharoor his job. Or so the media thought. Instead, the very next day he blasted them for "inaccurate, dishonest, irresponsible and tendentious reporting" and clarified that he was only quoting Lord Parekh's points and not offering his own. A neat KO punch!

A couple of day back, Tharoor kicked up another storm when he told Indian journalists in Riyadh: “We feel Saudi Arabia has a long and close relationship with Pakistan and that makes Saudi Arabia even a more valuable interlocutor for us,” Everyone thought that Tharoor was signaling a radical departure from India's long-held position that talks between Indian and Pakistan had to be bilateral and that there was no room for any third-party involvement. Predictably, the lifeless BJP, desperately looking for issues to embarrass the government, was up in arms, as was the 24/7 Indian media whose very survival depends upon some inane political controversy or another that keeps the focus of news in Delhi and in TV studios. But Tharoor not only neutralised them in a hurry, he gave them and his lakhs of Twitter followers lessons in the English language too: "If I speak to u,u are my interlocutor!I mentioned the Saudis as OUR interlocutors, ie the people we are here to speak to. Some misinterpretn"! Go nurse your wounds.

Today, for no apparent reason, an old song, "Muhammad Ali, the black superman," wormed into my head. Suddenly, its lyrics started changing to fit the story of Shashi Tharoor who is beginning to look more and more like a Mallu (Malyaali) superman who is constantly taunting, daring, teasing others to "catch me if you can." In less than an effortless hour "Interlocuter Shashi - the Mallu Superman" emerged.

Those who may not have heard the original song can listen to the embedded You Tube video while reading the lyrics:

This here's the story of Shashi Tharoor
Who changed his name to Inter-locutor Shashi
He knows how to talk and he knows how to tweet
And with clarifications his opponents he does beat

Sing (Inter)Locutor, Locutor Shashi
He talks out of turn and he can't help but tweet
Locutor, the Mallu superman
Who calls to the cattle guy I'm Shashi, catch me if you can

Now all you twitter fans, you've got to agree
There ain't no flies on Locutor Shashi
He confuses the arena wherever he goes
And everyone gets what they asked for

Locutor is known to have said
You hear me waffle and I'll muddle your head
He yaps like the Mallu superman
And calls to the media guy I'm Shashi, catch me if you can

He says I'm the greatest India's ever seen
The tweet-weight champion who's come back again
My lexicon is so baffling you can't ever mar
Which proves I'm the king of chatter ring by far

Sing Locutor, Locutor Shashi
He talks out of turn and he can't help but tweet
Locutor, the Mallu superman
Who calls to every other guy I'm Shashi, catch me if you can