In the end, the talk was more of an education for Tharoor & Dr Ragini on how India & Indians everywhere have changed and dynasty politics will one day have no place in our nation.
The ever-eloquent and fluent-tongued Shashi Tharoor appeared on a public forum in Bay area, California on May 9. His talk was moderated by Dr Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan – a quick google search yields that she is his niece.
Dr Ragini set the tone for the talk by starting with direct attacks on the Modi government in the name of questions. Tharoor restricted himself initially to his favourite topic – (rightly) bashing the British for colonial rule in India and elsewhere. The man’s knowledge of colonial history was evident from the few anecdotes he shared – from how a single diamond from India enriched a certain British family to the extent that there were two prime ministers of Britain who later came from the family; to how the actual value of the money looted from India would be northwards of $45 trillion in today’s currency!
The dynasty is perpetuated at the block/taluk/district/state level in Congress throughout the nation, so much so that the AICC delegates of today are the children of the delegates of 80’s who are the children of the delegates of 60’s!
But his history lessons were cut short by Dr Ragini, by veering him towards Modi-bashing. This time she started off with a false equivalency between Trump and Modi, Fascism & all the adjectives you hear from neo-liberals these days. Tharoor readily obliged this time by criticizing every aspect of the Modi rule for the last 5 years.
But that was not the highlight of the event. In fact, if not for what followed, the above lines are not even newsworthy!
What followed was a Q&A session with a very quiet audience. There were no trouble makers – instead students, technologists, above middle-aged admirers of Congress and patrons of the event centre. As folks lined up and started asking questions – they came out as bolts out of the blue.
“Being a liberal, how do you justify perpetuation of dynastic politics?”
“Sonia and Rahul win elections for Congress President post by receiving 99.9% of votes – more than what dictators received in countries like Iraq and Libya. Is this democracy?”
“For all your smartness and intellect you cannot aspire to be more than an MoS in Rahul’s cabinet, while the guy gets to be PM by virtue of his birth – how do you see this?”
Before the wise Tharoor could handle these questions with calmness and answer, the audience cheered every question with so much applause, that you could really gauge their views!
But more was to come!
At the question of “What are the qualities in Rahul Gandhi you admire?” – the entire audience erupted in uproar and laughter. (Tharoor did answer the question as seriously as he could, but that was drowned in the laughter which never ended.)
Dr Ragini was getting uncomfortable and tried to stop questions about the dynasty from coming – but the audience shouted her down! They wanted Tharoor to answer the questions.
While an IIT-ian praised Tharoor for his vote of Article 377, another quizzed him on his change of stance in the Sabarimala issue. A Congressman admitting Hindu feelings made him change his stance is a rarity on politics, circa 2019, and kudos to Tharoor for that!
Another young chap asked Tharoor how anyone could not be impressed about the rise of Modi from a tea-seller to a CM to the PM! He silently demolished Dr Ragini’s false equivalency of Modi and Trump and hinted he saw more of a parallel with Obama than Trump.
Before Tharoor could explain himself by quoting his book pat came the next salvo – “Rahul has not even been a village sarpanch in his life – how do you see him having the experience to be a Prime minister?”
Tharoor was candid. He quoted the title of the article – “Life is Unfair, and Politics is especially Unfair”, and that’s just the way things are. He said being a new-comer he is junior in the party hierarchy to dynasts like Deora, and that Rahul Gandhi would be elected Cong President whenever polls are held for the same, and one has to accept it as the way of life in dynastic politics. What he didn’t mention though is that dynasty is perpetuated at the block/taluk/district/state level in Congress throughout the nation, so much so that the AICC delegates of today are the children of the delegates of 80’s who are the children of the delegates of 60’s!
In the end, the talk was more of an education for Tharoor and Dr Ragini on how India & Indians everywhere have changed and is changing, and that, dynasty politics will one day have no place in our nation. Until then neo-liberals can keep searching for the next adjective in the Oxford dictionary to abuse Modi with.