Shashi Tharoor’s new difficult challenge: Learn to be less thin-skinned

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday (February 18) took to Twitter to state that “we must learn to be less thin-skinned” after an apparent reference to dilution of democratic ideals by the Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The Indian government had summoned the Singaporean envoy after PM Hsien Loong in a speech in their Parliament referred to the dilution of democratic ideals that were established under Jawaharlal Nehru to what it is today in India, and also alleges that several Lok Sabha MPs have criminal charges against them.

Tharoor said it was “most unseemly for MEA to summon the HC of a friendly country like Singapore over some remarks by their PM to their own Parliament.”

“He (Lee) was making a general (& largely accurate) point. Given the stuff our own pols utter, we must learn to be less thin-skinned!” the former minister of state for external affairs said.

In another tweet, he said, “We should have handled the matter with a statement saying ‘we heard with interest the PM’s remarks. But we don’t comment on other countries’ internal matters, nor on debates in foreign Parliaments, & urge everyone to follow the same principle.’ Far more effective & less offensive.”

Also read: COVID, Nehru, migrant crisis: What’s fuelling Modi-Rahul verbal duel?

Singapore PM Hsien Loong’s speech and reference to Indian democracy were apparently meant as a counter to the country’s opposition Workers’ Party, whose members and leaders have been accused of having lied in Parliament.

However, Congress had caught on that reference to target Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP, who have often criticised Nehru for his shortcomings.

“Pandit Nehru’s magnanimity continues to inspire world leaders even today. Pity the ones here at home who fail to have the vision to understand the exceptional leader he was,” Congress tweeted.

“Singapore PM invokes Nehru to argue how democracy should work during a parliamentary debate whereas our PM denigrates Nehru all the time inside and outside Parliament,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh had said.

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