Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said on Saturday that he had reached an amicable settlement of a defamation complaint he had filed against Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad. Tharoor had in 2018 filed the complaint against Prasad for calling him a “murder accused”, a reference to the death of Tharoor’s wife Sunanda Pushkar.
“More than a year ago in the heat of campaign I had made a comment describing you as an accused in a murder case,” Prasad wrote to Tharoor on Friday. “On receiving subsequent information about the conclusion of the investigation in the concerned case, I learnt that the said allegation against you is not factually correct. I accordingly, withdraw it unconditionally.”
Prasad said he had made the comment with reference to Tharoor making a disparaging reference to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which he admitted were not the Congress leader’s words but those spoken by someone else. Tharoor had said that a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader told him that Modi is like a “scorpion on a Shivling”.
Prasad said that though it was not Tharoor’s remark, his reiteration gave the remark prominence in the media. The minister said Tharoor should introspect and consider that the comment he made was avoidable.
“I have known you for the last many years both in the Parliament and also from your UN days,” Prasad said. “While we differ politically, at times strongly, we both have maintained mutual respect and amity. You would appreciate that in a democratic polity, debate, discussion, differences, arguments as well as criticism is of essence. However, while upholding these salutary principles, one should not hurt others’ sentiments and reputation, and I had no intention of doing so in your case.”
Tharoor responded the same day, telling Prasad it was very gracious of him to withdraw the words he had used. “I welcome your sentiments and in view of our long association, I am happy to treat the matter as closed,” he said. “I am instructing my lawyers to withdraw the case I had filed on this matter.”