So far, Shashi Tharoor's life has run along an enviable script. Start with writing middling books (usually based on popular topics of the day) that get coverage, then get into IFS and see the world, work at the United Nations, launch a much-publicized campaign for the post of UN secretary, milking the Indian ness cachet for all it is worth, convert all the cumulative acclaim into a Member of Parliament seat, and end up a Junior Minister of State of External Affairs. See the world at the people's expense. Life could not be sweeter.
The script turns into a bad sequel of sorts.
Just like most sequels (bar Godfather 2, LOTR 2, and Spiderman 2) who take upon an air of self-importance, eating into the goodwill generated by Part1, Shashi Tharoor it seems, has hardly taken a right step ever since he became a minister. He stays at a Five star hotel while his ministerial bungalow is done up, for over 30 days. It is still not clear who paid the bill, the government or Tharoor himself. Then to make sure, he stays in the limelight, as if the minister ship wasn't enough, he starts Using microblogging site Twitter.
It would have been fine if he had chosen to inform us how the Indian government really functions, the narrow lanes of babudom and all. Instead he chooses to impose his elite upbringing, lifestyle and all that - how Indian travel in the cattle class, being the most popular example. This matter passes over. As distasteful and insensitive it was, Indians were thrilled to have an articulate minister, however out of touch with reality he may have been. 9 months down the line,
Tharoor is in the news, again for wrong reasons.
Never abandoning the nature of a veteran self-promoter's habit to hop onto the biggest topic of the day, Tharoor now stands accused of using his connections to help get the Kerala Town of Kochi get an IPL team of its won. It is an ugly situation, as far as a Central Government Minister goes. However, at the crux of the scandal is Rs. 70 crore worth of free shares allotted to a woman who is claimed to be Tharoor's "fiancé".
So, where does Shashi Tharoor go from here?
He has his media and new media friends who may perhaps succeed in deflecting the heat in the short-term. For example, his OSD used to run a somewhat popular blog from the United States before he joined Tharoor full time. With this baggage of negative actions as a prominent government functionary, it is doubtful Tharoor will see a higher office. He is not the first Minister noted for his high-profile presence, minus the real responsibility. Mind you, a junior Minister in a jumbo-sized government does not get do anything much other than opening book launches and visiting minor nations like Senegal.
In the Vajpayee Government there used to be Rajeev Pratap Rudy who managed to get plenty of media time. Rudy made it a point to show to all, including his angry electorate in Chapra (Bihar) how modern he was. He has not won a single election since. Maybe the voters in Kerala are more advanced. However, Kerala often sees alternative Left and Congress waves. In 2009, Congress prevailed. Will Tharoor win in 2014?
Maybe we will see Tharoor doing the TV newsroom debate circuits, writing some more topical books. In addition, there is always the 70 crore in the bank, boss.