Shashi Tharoor who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, proved his penchant for controversy by doffing his hat at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shifting politics of this country from identity to performance, at a packed-to-the-gills session – India Shastra – at the Diggi Palace Front Lawns of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.

Shashi Tharoor who has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, proved his penchant for controversy by doffing his hat at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for shifting politics of this country from identity to performance, at a packed-to-the-gills session – India Shastra – at the Diggi Palace Front Lawns of the Zee Jaipur Literature Festival on Friday.Only early last week Congress had pulled Tharoor up for remarks at the Kolkata literary festival for “praising the PM”. Yet today he began his talk with, “Modi is a shift in politics; from the politics of identity to politics of performance.” Tharoor was reading from his new collection of essays, before which he made the point which could further upset his party, the Congress.Though he later tried to temper his compliment with some criticism, his earlier words seemed to have made a mark by then. Congress supporters in the assembly of 2,500-plus people were miffed with Tharoor. Later, though Tharoor observed that while PM Modi’s appeal is his focus on development and governance, “he’s giving a free rein to retrograde elements (who are) rewriting text books, praising ancient science over modern science”, it cut little ice with the Congress sympathisers present in the audience.“Unko soch samajh kar bolna chahiye (He should have thought of it before speaking),” said Narayan Thakur, a Congress worker who was seen immediately making calls to his party bosses to inform them of the development. While admitting he will raise the issue with the national leadership, Rajasthan Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sachin Pilot didn’t seem too keen on muddying waters. “Tharoor is not from Rajasthan. So any formal comment on this should come from the national spokesperson of the party. I will only speak about what is happening in the state,” he said.Such was the outrage over Tharoor’s statement that much of what his fellow panelist Mihir Sharma or the moderator Amita Tripathi said paled out in comparison.It may be recalled that on October 14 last year, Congress had removed Tharoor from the post of national spokesperson, after the Kerala unit (led by KPCC vice-president M M Hassan) of the Congress took strong objection to what they called his “continuous and undue effusive praise” of Modi. They had demanded the high command act against him, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who Tharoor was otherwise seen as close to, referred the matter to the central disciplinary panel of A K Antony, Sushil Kumar Shinde and Motilal Vora, which recommended that he be stripped of his post.The former union minister who had been questioned by Delhi police on Monday over his wife Sunanda Pushkar’s death has been magnet for media which swirled around him even on Thursday night when he was at the Zee Jaipur Litfest dinner.

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Zee JLF: Shashi Tharoor praises Narendra Modi, Congress in a tizzy