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Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Tharoor tragedy

I almost -- almost -- feel sorry for Shashi Tharoor. He apparently thought that a PhD in diplomacy and a lifetime in the intrigue-ridden corridors of the UN prepared him for the treachery of the political tamasha here. Which is why he came a cropper within a year of his entree into the members-only club that our netas have made for themselves.

Those who live by the tweet also die (metaphorically speaking, of course) by it, so it was perhaps inevitable that a vengeful tweet from Lalit Modi would do in the 54-year-old minister who thought he was part of GenNext. But more than poetic justice for Tharoor, the rapidly-spinning-out-of-control scandal serves as an ominous warning for all those arrivistes who want to join the party: if you wanna boogie with us, learn the steps first. Or face the music.

Nepotism, affaires de coeur, lining nests, subverting official privileges -- anything goes, as long as it's not made common knowledge. Leave that to the nosy papers and TV channels to ferret out, if they can or if they dare. Don't flaunt what people don't expect you to flaunt, is the strict code of the politically privileged. Violate it and you'll pay for it.

Luxury cars (even if they embarrassingly get burnt up in a Lutyens' bungalow garage occasionally, and thus make it to the newspapers), holidays and junkets at government expense, discreet friendships, and the like are all okay because they can easily be camouflaged or explained away. Sadly for Shashi, many of the things he did could neither be explained away (to the public) or condoned by his political peers.

Perhaps he was too sure of his own cleverness to figure out that he hadn't learnt the right steps yet... By then it was too late. Alas.

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