Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday sought to dismiss the controversy over Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor’s comment that he would travel “cattle class in solidarity with all our holy cows” as minor differences.
Dr. Singh’s first comment on the three-day-old controversy came within hours of the Congress hinting at the possibility of disciplinary action against Mr. Tharoor for making this “unacceptable comment” on Twitter.
Asked for his comments on the issue at an Iftar hosted by him, Dr. Singh said: “Nok jhok toh hotee rahtee hain [such quibbling happens].” And, one of his senior Cabinet colleagues added that Mr. Tharoor would learn the hard way to weigh his words.
While the Congress has been clearly disapproving of Mr. Tharoor’s comment — made in response to a Twitter query on whether he would travel “cattle class” in view of the austerity drive launched by his party — spokesman Manish Tewari did not comment on whether the Minister would have to step down as demanded by Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot.
Describing Mr. Gehlot’s demand as a natural reaction to such a statement, Mr. Tewari said: “The party will take whatever action is appropriate at an appropriate time.”