Speaking at the Swachh Bharat function Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi invited a galaxy of national celebrities to join his mission. He invited Mr. Sachin Tendulkar, Miss Priyanka Chopra, Mr. Salman Khan, Mr. Kamal Haasan, Mr. Anil Ambani and others. Among his invitees he prominently included Mr. Shashi Tharoor. This has raised many eyebrows. If the PM sought representation of the Congress there are over a dozen leaders of that party more senior and important. Why did he so conspicuously single out Mr. Tharoor? This becomes especially puzzling given the fierce controversy surrounding Mr. Tharoor fueled by senior BJP leader Mr. Subramaniam Swamy.
It might be recalled that Mr. Tharoor’s late wife Sunanda Pushkar died in mysterious circumstances which are still being investigated by the police.
Mr. Swamy alleged that Sunanda Pushkar’s death was connected to the IPL corruption scandal in which the CBI had stated that betting syndicates controlled by Dawood Ibrahim were making illegal profits to fund terrorism. He recalled that Sunanda Pushkar had threatened to expose the IPL deals to two journalists. Mr. Swamy alleged that Mr. Robert Vadra's name would also have surfaced. Mr. Swamy for long carried on his campaign demanding a credible probe by a Special Investigative Team (SIT). After his tirade collected momentum Mr. Tharoor complimented Mr. Narendra Modi’s leadership describing it as inclusive.
Critics assumed that he was softening the new government because he felt vulnerable on account of Mr. Swamy’s allegations. More revelations and allegations by doctors attending to the case claiming undue pressure by former Union Minister Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad and by Mr. Tharoor himself to act unprofessionally further muddied the controversy. The Delhi police probing the case have sought a fresh opinion on the autopsy and cause of the victim’s death.
Earlier when the IPL scandal was at its height and Sunanda Pushkar’s name had figured in it, Mr. Modi had mocked Mr. Tharoor and described his late wife as a Rs. 60 crore girl friend – that being the amount allegedly acquired from the IPL corruption. Now unexpectedly it is not Mr. Tharoor trying to placate the government but the PM reaching out to Mr. Tharoor despite a section of his colleagues demanding a probe into Mr. Tharoor’s role in the IPL scandal and his wife’s death. This has inevitably aroused unhealthy speculation about Mr. Modi’s surprising invitation to Mr. Tharoor.
Critics wonder if now Mr. Tharoor has damaging information to spill that could embarrass the BJP which is why he needs to be placated for his silence. Mr. Tharoor is most likely privy to information regarding the IPL scandal. Throughout the period when IPL corruption occurred and even Dawood Ibrahim’s connection was alleged by the CBI there were three BJP members on the board overseeing IPL affairs. They all remained silent. Mr. Modi was one of them. Such wild speculation is unfair. But given Mr. Modi’s inexplicable invitation to Mr. Tharoor is it not inevitable?