Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Monday said that the government should not be “thin-skinned” about comments by Western countries about India’s democracy, reported, ANI.
Tharoor was responding to a question about External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s statement from April 2 that the West has a bad habit of commenting on others. Jaishankar spoke in the context of statements by Germany and the United States about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification from Parliament.
“...The West has had a bad habit for a long time of commenting on others,” Jaishankar had said in response to a question about the statements of the two countries. “They somehow think it is some kind of God-given right. They will have to learn only by experience that if you keep doing this, other people will also start commenting and they will not like it when it happens. I see that happening.”
However, Tharoor on Monday said that the government must learn to take some things in its stride.
“I have known him [Jaishankar] for a long time and consider him as a friend but on this issue, I think we need not be so thin-skinned,” the Thiruvananthapuram MP said. “...If we start reacting to every comment, we are doing ourselves a disservice. I would strongly urge my good friend Jai to cool a little bit.”
Tharoor had served as the minister of state for external affairs from May 2009 to April 2010. Before this stint, he had also garnered experience in the field of diplomacy on account of having served in the United Nations for 29 years.
On March 23, a Gujarat court had sentenced Gandhi to two years imprisonment in a criminal defamation case. He was found guilty in a case related to his speech ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in which he referred to thieves as having the surname Modi.
A week later, a German foreign ministry spokesperson said at a press briefing that the country had taken note of the verdict. The spokesperson said that Germany “expects that the standards of judicial independence and fundamental democratic principles will apply” in the case.
On March 27, a senior United States official said that the country is watching Gandhi’s case in Indian courts. The official said that the rule of law and judicial independence constitute the cornerstone of a democracy, and that Washington would continue to engage with India “on our shared commitment to democratic values, including, freedom of expression”.