It turns out that mastery over the English language doesn’t quite guarantee that common sense comes along with it.
The Congress party has been smarting over the last few days after Barack Obama had described its scion in less than flattering terms in his latest memoir. “Rahul Gandhi has a nervous, unformed quality about him, as if he were a student who’d done the coursework and was eager to impress the teacher but deep down lacked either the aptitude or the passion to master the subject,” Obama had written in A Promised land, which had led to considerable embarrassment for the Congress party. This appears to have promoted Congress loyalist Shashi Tharoor to do some damage control.
“I have got hold of an advance copy of @BarackObama‘s #APromisedLand & though i haven’t read every page, I did read every bit on India flagged in the Index. Big news: There isn’t much,” Tharoor wrote on Twitter. “Bigger news: in 902 pages, @narendramodi is not mentioned by name at all,” he gloated, insinuating that while Barack Obama thought Rahul Gandhi was useless, Obama hadn’t thought Modi to be significant enough to even warrant a mention.
As it turns out, Tharoor would’ve done well to read the book in its entirety — A Promised Land only describes events in Obama’s life till 2011. “The 768-page book, “A Promised Land,” will be the first of two volumes, this one encompassing parts of his early political life, his presidential campaign in 2008 and ending with the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011,” says the review of the book by the New York Times. As such, it’s not surprising that Narendra Modi wouldn’t find mention in the book — at that point, he was just the Chief Minister of Gujarat, and wouldn’t necessarily have warranted a mention in Obama’s biography.
But such is the Congress’s desperation to try to salvage the Rahul Gandhi fiasco that it’s clutching that straws — the fact that Narendra Modi has no mention in the book — in order to divert attention from Obama’s damning statement about their scion.
This isn’t even the first time that Shashi Tharoor has steered wide of the truth on Twitter. Last year, he’d shared a photoshopped image which said “Modi, Xi will mate 6 times in 24 hours”, a long while after Times of India had clarified that the image was fake. He’d then deleted the tweet.
A little while before that, in response to the grand Howdy Modi event, Tharoor had shared a picture of Jawaharlal Nehru, claiming it was from the reception he’d received in the US. But a quick check revealed that the photo was from Russia, not the US, and Tharoor was forced to apologize.
The year prior to that, last year, Tharoor had fallen prey to yet another WhatsApp forward — that Raghuram Rajan had been appointed as the governor of the Bank of England. “Remarkable: India’s Raghuram Rajan has been appointed Governor of the Bank of England! With an Indian (NasserHusain) having captained the England cricket team already, all that’s left to complete a reverse colonization is for an Indian to be Prime Minister,” he’d proclaimed, before apologizing when his error was pointed out.
Tharoor now has tried to play up the fact that Narendra Modi has no mention in Obama’s book as a put down, without realizing that he book only covers events only till 2011, three years before Modi even became Prime Minister. Tharoor is now 63, and it’s not unusual for someone in his demographic to regularly fall prey to fake news on the internet. But Tharoor is thought among his supporters to be an intellectual, a modern renaissance man who holds forth on subjects like British history and international diplomacy. To see him share fake news like Sharma Uncle from downstairs has to be disconcerting for his fans — it’s getting harder and harder to do away with the notion that his supposed intellect might just be the biggest fake news of them all.