‘I joined Twitter to demystify the processes in governance’
BANGALORE: “Call me Slushy Tharoor and I can laugh about it; but don’t impersonate me on Twitter,” said Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor at the Bangalore Twitter Meet Up on Friday as he addressed a net-savvy group of about 100 young people. “I think I have the moral right to my identity which I don’t want anyone using; but as far as jokes go, anyone knows I am a satirist myself and can laugh about a good joke,” said Mr. Tharoor, who now has 3,99,380 followers on Twitter.
In an intimate hour-long session with Twitter users, peppered with humour and wit, the Minister, who has been part of many controversies over his tweets on the micro-blogging and social networking site, rubbished all sorts of allegations cheerily amidst a seemingly starry-eyed youth following.
“I joined Twitter to demystify the processes in governance and also so for the element of accountability,” he said. “Though a lot of (misreporting) has caused me political damage, I think it can help me connect with real people,” he said, describing Twitter as “wonderfully self-limiting with its 140-character space.” He mostly tweeted during car rides and late at night. While U.S. President Barack Obama is said to be following 5,00,000 people, he only followed the few he could actually afford to follow. “All the tweets I reply to are each written by me,” he said.
As for the now infamous “cattle-class” tweet, it was a phrase thrown up in the question he was asked, and it was one commonly used in the United States. “I should have known its connotations in a multilingual country, where the word ‘cattle’ has much significance.”
The affable politician-Minister traced his journey from being an unlikely entrant into politics to finally being able to grapple with a political system, which, he says, was not necessarily built for efficiency but surely for checks and balances.
Mr. Tharoor also offered a variety of suggestions from his young fans — from making Twitter mandatory for all Ministers to being able to use it within the government set-up itself.
He ended his interactive session with a story from his constituency, Thiruvananthapuram, where a young girl lost her legs in an accident at an unguarded railway track. “I tweeted about the incident and help poured in from all directions for her surgery and prosthetic legs.”