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Shashi Tharoor in New Avatar

FORMER Union minister of state Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, has fallen from grace a second time. He could be wondering whether he took the right decision to join politics. “Wasn’t I better off as an author, a UN assistant secretary, newspaper columnist and many more avatars before I took the plunge into politics?” he cannot perhaps avoid thinking. The first time he fell from grace was when his newest wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a hotel room. From all the evidence ‘unearthed’ her death was blamed on an overdose of medicines. But why would anyone, a successful professional and entrepreneur, wife of a prominent writer and politician, be so depressed as to take lethal overdose of drugs, knowing fully well that it is going to take her life? Why would she want to take her life? Or was there any other evidence that the police and AIIMS authorities had glossed over or suppressed or destroyed that could point a finger at Tharoor?
After a virtual closure of the case, new evidence has been dug up and brought up in the media. The hint is at poisoning and injuries as the cause of her death. There have been quite a few cases in the recent years, particularly death of middle class women whose cases were suppressed by the authorities in order to protect someone politically powerful in which social activists and friends and members of the families of the victims marshalled all their resources and energies and sought the shelter of the judiciary to get justice for the women. The judiciary in this country has really sometimes worked like angels in this country of devils. The Sunanda Pushkar case is heading in that direction. She belonged to the same class to whom those women victims belonged. Her friends and social activists have brought up her case. And they are sure to seek the shelter of the judiciary to get to the truth and get justice for Pushkar.
The Congress leadership is already facing a hundred odds in recovering from the shock of the crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. Their number is small in the Lok Sabha but they are trying very hard to corner the government on issues. In such times, the Pushkar case liability for Shashi Tharoor is proving to be a liability for the party. The party leadership would like to distance itself from Tharoor until he gets a clean chit from the judiciary. No matter what defence he puts up, accusations will go on being hurled at him, reinforcing public suspicions.
To top it all, Tharoor was beginning to self-inflict injury. He has been saying nice things about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and also writing about it in blogs and websites. This was something that no party leadership could tolerate. Would Modi have tolerated someone writing in praise of Sonia Gandhi? Naturally, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee rose up in arms demanding disciplinary action against Tharoor. It could not be blamed on factionalism or petty personal ambitions alone. Such factionalist groups are not an uncommon thing in Congress; the thing to note is why would Tharoor be appreciative of Modi when he is not only a Congress MP but also a spokesman of the party? Was he not undermining his credibility as a Congress spokesperson by speaking favourably about Narendra Modi?
There is very clear indication that Tharoor was sending a positive vibe to Modi and the BJP, a feeler that he was open-minded. And you could not blame the Congressmen in Kerala and senior party men in Delhi when they suspected Tharoor’s openness could be a hint for something more. And the evidence of it came when Modi invited him to join the Swachh Bharat Mission and Tharoor responded saying he felt “honoured” to accept the Prime Minister’s invitation. Now that the Congress has removed him from the post of spokespersons of the AICC with immediate effect, he could either go into political wilderness or join the leader he has been praising. Let’s wait for the new avatar of the one who dreamt of becoming UN secretary general.
Water Thieves
A report from South Goa in this newspaper on Monday showed how illegal transportation of groundwater has been going on largely unchecked in the district. The case is no different in North Goa. Under law, the well owners as well as water suppliers are required to register themselves with the water resource department, but there are only a few of them who follow the rules. Apart from water tankers, small jeeps and other vehicles are being used to transport water to domestic and commercial users (hotels, builders, industries) avoiding the eyes of the law enforcers. Some suppliers have ‘modified’ their vehicles by fitting tanks inside their vehicles to avoid registration and getting noticed. Unchecked groundwater exploitation means the government does not have any data on the depletion of the resource. There are limits placed on exploitation, but neither the well owners nor the water suppliers care for those restrictions. There is but one way to stop this: tight vigilance in the villages and towns. For that, the state government must provide the water resource department the manpower, vehicles and technological resources and fix the accountability on the superior officers.

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