SONIA Rewards Sashi Tharoor with new job

Old ministry, new post for Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi, May 2: Shashi Tharoor may have stepped down from his ministry, but he can’t step out altogether.

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has nominated him to the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs, ensuring Tharoor’s association with his former ministry at least for the next one year.

The committee is one of 24 such panels whose job is to carry out “parliamentary surveillance” over administration. Their term of office is one year.

Tharoor had resigned last month in the wake of the IPL Kochi controversy amid allegations that his friend Sunanda Pushkar had been given free shares as an indirect reward to him — a charge the diplomat-turned-politician had repeatedly denied.

Sources said Tharoor’s nomination could not have come about had his party not assented. “He was asked to resign for his actions were perceived to be against the spirit of ministerial propriety. But his talent is not in question. The party values his talent in the field of diplomacy and international relations and wants to make use of it,” said a Congress source.

“Tharoor,” agreed a former diplomat, “was an important cog in India’s diplomatic wheel despite his penchant for getting into controversies. His years in the UN and the friendships he had struck there helped India reach out to Latin American and African countries.”

As a member of the standing committee — whose job like the 23 others is to provide direction, guidance and inputs for broad policy formulations — Tharoor will not look at matters of day-to-day administration of his former ministry. But Congress sources said the post might be the first step towards his eventual rehabilitation.

These sources pointed out that the Prime Minister was yet to find a replacement and that Tharoor’s responsibilities had been distributed between foreign minister S.M. Krishna and junior minister Preneet Kaur. The sources, however, ruled out chances of Tharoor being accommodated in a shuffle likely next month.

Tharoor himself is busy consolidating his following in Kerala. Even his tweets talk more about his work in his home state. It prompted one of his “followers” to comment: “never heard about ur (your) constituency b4 (before) in ur tweets.”

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