Millennium Post

Tharoor, one of Modi’s Navaratnas

Prime minister Narendra Modi has been striving hard to sustain the national cleanliness drive launched on the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  He is also not leaving any opportunity to highlight the importance of the campaign and is keen enough to inspire people to make cleanliness as an integral part of their lifestyle. The prime minister has repeatedly clarified that the drive is an apolitical movement likely to stay for times to come. 

In order to intensify his appeal, the PM also announced the names of the nine eminent personalities to be known as the nine ambassadors or navratnas of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.  The surprise inclusion of former union minister and a sitting MP of the Congress Party, Shashi Tharoor might have embarrassed the party though Tharoor had no hesitation in accepting the offer.  The prime minister while announcing the navratnas described the campaign being beyond politics. The other navratanas announced are Sachin Tendulkar, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Kamal Hassan, Salman Khan Aamir Khan, all well known celebrities.

Tharoor, born in London is an alumnus of St Stephens College, University of Delhi. He is a versatile personality as his arena is not confined to just one field.  He has earned laurels in many spectrums, the latest being the coveted as well as morally polluted, of late, field of politics. Prior to joining politics, Tharoor has been fetching headlines as a columnist, author, novelist, diplomat, politician, powerful speaker, parliamentarian, statesman and an administrator engaged in the United Nations for its peacekeeping and refugee welfare activities.  His UN career began in 1978 and he rose to become an Under Secretary General in the UN in 1996.  Tharoor took on the then foreign minister of Korea, Ban Ki Moon in the elections in 2006 to the post of the Secretary General, United Nations.

Tharoor, as a candidate fielded by India, came  a close second in the race. An author, Tharoor started writing at the age of six and his first story was published when he was not even in his teens. His famous works include: The Great India Novel, The Elephant, the Tiger and the Cell Phone, The Five Dollar Smiles and India from Midnight to Millennium. A large number of awards and prizes have been bestowed on him.  Tharoor is a pioneer in using social media as an instrument of political interaction. He is probably known as the first to tweet frequently in the sub continent. Tharoor has also had to face criticism due to his tweet messages quite often.

Tharoor won his first ever election from Thiruvanantpuram Lok sabha seat from Kerala as a Congress nominee in 2009 by defeating a candidate of the CPI. He was re-elected, against his hope, in 2014 by defeating the veteran 84 year old BJP candidate, O Rajgopal on whom the saffron party was banking upon to score the first ever victory in any election in the state which has been dominated by the reds. Tharoor won by a slender margin of 15,000 votes to deprive Rajgopal of a victory as he had been unsuccessfully contesting elections on the BJP ticket every time in the state. Tharoor was twice elevated as an MOS in the cabinet of Manmohan Singh.

Tharoor served as an MOS in the Ministries of External Affairs and Human Resources Development. He had been a vocal MP and was given opportunities to prove his mettle as a speaker during debates on crucial topics. Also known as a cattle class fame MP, Tharoor became the first elected representative in the country to issue an annual report on his work as an MP to highlight details of MPLADS expenditure in 2012 and also published a half term report followed by a full term report in 2014. Tharoor had to resign as an MOS in August 2010 because of unsubstantiated allegations of misusing his office in getting shares in an IPL cricket franchise. His comments on Gandhi and Nehru vision on Indian foreign policy attracted criticism and annoyance from the Congress. While travelling to Saudi Arabia with the then PM, Manmohan Singh in February 2010,Tharoor described the role of Saudi as an interlocutor for the country.  He was forced to issue clarification for the same.

Tharoor is not deterring from his commitment to side with the PM in his Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a social campaign initiated to eliminate all filth, garbage and litter from all parts of the country by 2019.  Tharoor, carrying a large size broom along with his supporters recently swept Kovalam beach area under his parliamentary constituency despite his party dislodging him from the responsibilities of a spokesperson after a complaint lodged by the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee to the party high command.

Tharoor has been frank and honest in reiterating his positioning with Modi as far as the cleanliness drive is concerned. Tharoor earlier on certain occasions has been upfront in appreciating the mass appeal of Modi. Tharoor described the tallest saffron leader as Modi   and this generated a debate over his gestures towards Modi. By acknowledging an offer of being one of the Navratnas of Modi, the Congress MP has supported a national cause and hence this may not be taken as poaching by the prime minister in any case.

The author is a communication consultant
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