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Tharoor Says, He Was Misquoted On Nehru

Minister of state for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, who courted controversy again by joining British Labour MP Bhikhu Parikh in debunking Nehruvian foreign policy as a "moralistic running commentary" on Sunday clarified that he was
PTI January 10, 2010 19:15 IST
PTI

Minister of state for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor, who courted controversy again by joining British Labour MP Bhikhu Parikh in debunking Nehruvian foreign policy as a "moralistic running commentary" on Sunday clarified that he was ‘misquoted' by media. 

“I was misquoted by media. This was an irresponsible report. I don't think the party has reacted in a negative,” Tharoor said. “India deserves better and frankly so do I,” Tharoor said. 

At a talk organized by the Indian Council of World Affairs on Saturday, Tharoor had endorsed the criticism that Jawaharlal Nehru's foreign policy was a tad too preachy and gave India an exaggerated sense of importance. 

"I agree with Parikh's opinion of Nehru and (Mahatma) Gandhi's foreign policies. It was more like a moralistic running commentary," the minister had said, recalling his own writings criticizing Nehru's approach to world affairs. 

Tharoor's frank remarks raised hackles in his party, Congress, where India's first PM is a venerated figure, not the least for being part of the Nehru-Gandhi pantheon. Though India recast its foreign policy after the end of the cold war, Panchsheel and non-aligned movement are seen as Nehru's signal contributions, certainly in Congress. 

Parikh had slammed Nehru's policies as having given India a sense of misplaced self-righteousness: "He (Nehru) even developed Indian foreign policy as though it was speaking for the whole of Asia, homogenizing the entire continent and ignoring internal conflicts." Parikh then went on to describe Indira Gandhi's policies as having lacked “strategic vision”. 

Speaking after Parikh, Tharoor had said, “I agree with Parikh on several points. We come from the same school of thought on these issues.” 

The rebuttal from Congress was prompt. “Nehru is a giant about whom no one can be dismissive in a one-liner,” said party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi. “Given the past history (of controversies), it's useful to apply the principle that silence is golden.” 

“Congress's foreign policy was visualized by Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru even before Independence; that should not be questioned by a person who is particularly in the government and is supposedly carrying that legacy (forward). The PM should take note of this,” Congress spokesman Shakil Ahmed had said.

Meanwhile, Shashi Tharoor's controversial remarks on Pandit Nehru's foreign policy got support on Sunday  from BJP which said the Union Minister spoke the truth. 

At the same time, the main Opposition blamed Tharoor for attacking media and sought an answer from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh asking whether Congress was heading to gag the media.

"British MP Bhikhu Parekh made a remark and possibly Tharoor concluding it said the stand of Nehru was more of a moralistic commentary. He (Tharoor) has for once spoken a truth even if it was done by him by mistake," party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy told reporters in New Delhi. 

Rudy maintained that his party was not concerned with what Tharoor said about Nehru's foreign policy and it was for Congress now to clarify "because BJP does believe that Nehruvian foreign policy has not done well to the state". 

Reacting to the Tharoor's comment on media which came in the wake of the controversy over his remarks on Pandit Nehru's foreign policy, Rudi said, "We are concerned about his remark on Indian media. 

"He (Tharoor) has said that the Indian media is irresponsible, dishonest. Maybe he addressed a particular group. He said mediapersons does not have in depth knowledge of the subject," Rudi said. 

Attacking Congress, Rudy wondered whether the ruling party was heading to "gag" media. 

"BJP would like the Prime Minister to answer this question because we believe that media is the fourth pillar of democracy. And so when attempt is made to gag media, its a matter of concern for all Indians on Sunday ," he said. 

Rudy described the remarks of Tharoor about media as an "attack on India media" and said BJP would like to know from him that when he called the Indian people cattle class, did the Indian media misrepresent him ?

He also wondered whether media was irresponsible, when he was staying in a five star hotel on government money and media published it? 

"Was the media irresponsible when the they questioned his statement after he said terrorist don't need visa to come in this country?," he asked. 

BJP would also like to know from Tharoor whether media was wrong when he on the day of Gandhi Jayanti, which is a national holiday, said the people of India celebrate the day instead of working, Rudy told reporters. PTI