Dr. Shashi Tharoor was in discussion with UAE newspaper The Khaleej Times journalist Anjana Sankar who said that if words were weapons, he could be the most mightily armed man – although Tharoor leaves us scratching our heads on the issue of Sabarimala.
The Malayalam edition of The Paradoxical Prime Minister was released the previous day. She started the discussion by asking about his objectivity when writing about the Prime Minister of an opposing party.
Tharoor mentioned that this is why the book is so big – he chose to write a very substantiated takedown of the PM and his rule and has included a large number of footnotes and references. At the end of the day, he insisted, the book must stand up as a document of its time. He also said that he did not think it possible to add or subtract from the media saturation that PM Modi enjoys. He wanted to reach that segment of the book-reading public that cares about the issues.
When asked why Tharoor spoke positively about Modi when the latter was elected, Tharoor gave two reasons: to respect the people’s verdict as a Democrat and because what Mr. Modi said before the elections were good stuff and were inclusive. He realized if he’d acknowledged these statements then Tharoor himself was in a better position to hold him accountable. In six months, however, Tharoor’s hopes about PM Modi were dashed. He discussed in length about his disappointments with PM Modi’s rule, especially his silence on many Hindutva-responsible tragedies in the country.
On Tharoor’s opinions about Sabarimala, he said that it’s not about women’s equality. He mentioned that no woman MP has introduced as many bills for women’s rights as he has. He is strong of the view that women to be of the superior sex. He noted how the top students are always women in India. Initially, he spoke up for women to enter Sabarimala. When he spoke to many people in his constituency, including many women, they did not see this as an issue to be framed as equality. He believes that those who want to the temple with belief will believe in the lore which does not allow women of menstruating age are not allowed to enter. He then brought up Kumariamman temple. He does not believe it is general discrimination and he believes as a representative, he must respect the faith of his people.
He said that if the BJP really believes in what they say about Sabarimala, they can draft freedom of religious worship bill as was done in the USA. He also noted the difference in the ways BJP and Congress have responded to the Sabarimala issue. He said we should not confuse Hindutva with the political doctrine of the ruling party.
Blog by Neetha Kurup