Indian Decade

An Old-Style Downfall

‘Twittergate’ claims a scalp. Guilty or not, Tharoor fell the old-fashioned way.

For a man who seemed to have it all—an illustrious UN career, a dream debut in politics, a glib self-assuredness—Shashi Tharoor must have found it hard to stomach defeat Monday morning. After two meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Sunday, Tharoor resigned from his post as Minister of External Affairs following news reports suggesting senior Congress leaders didn’t want the government and parliament to be held ransom by the ‘Twittergate’ issue.

On Sunday, TV news programs held frenzied debates discussing whether this was the death of a middle class hero. To many, Tharoor represented the modern, confident, ‘new age’ of Indian politics that supposedly shunned partisan politics, inward looking agendas and get-rich-quick schemes. We don’t know yet if Tharoor is guilty (although for a smart man like him, we’d perhaps be remiss in assuming he didn’t understand the conflict of interest in ‘mentoring’ a consortium in which his girlfriend had substantial free equity, though she gave that up Sunday).

But isn’t it sad that somebody so supposedly ‘new age’ has fallen in the oldest style of political scandal—financial irregularities? Irreverent tweets would certainly have been a more moral, new age way to go down.