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India's Minister of Tweet Forced to Step Down

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, April 19 2010

Credit: Utenriksdept

We noted back in January that Indian junior foreign minister Shashi Tharoor was gaining considerable attention, both negative and more admiring, for his fervent and revealing tweeting. The press in India even nicknamed him "Twitteroor," not without a good dash of mocking. Well, four months later, and, as of yesterday, Tharoor is gone. Time's Jyoti Thottam reports on what drove his forced resignation:

After Tharoor, a lifelong cricket fan, served as an adviser to a group of investors who put up $333.33 million to buy a new IPL [Indian Premier League] franchise, details of the deal were revealed on Twitter on April 11 by Lalit Modi, head of the IPL. Among the shareholders was Sunanda Pushkar, Tharoor's frequent companion, who was listed as part owner of 25% of "free equity."

It wasn't Twitter that, in the end, got Tharoor. (Worth noting is that Tharoor will remain an MP, representing the city of Thiruvananthapuram in the state of Kerala). But reading local observers, the subtext seems to be that Twitter was emblematic of Tharoor's attempts to practice a more personable, direct kind of politics. And that, among other political intrigues, earned him some enemies who were eager to trip us his career.

Thottam quotes one former Indian diplomat as explaining Tharoor's demise this way: "The says the wrong thing, he does the wrong thing. Or, rather, it is what is considered the wrong thing."

Tharoor, naturally, tweeted about the controversy and his resignation. "Thanks for all the support &good wishes," he wrote to his 727,000 followers, among others, and then referenced Gandhi's famous quote on how political and social change come about. "U folks are the new India.We will 'be the change' we wish to see in our country. But not w'out pain!"