No More Controversy, Sonia Tells Tharoor

Over his ‘cattle class’ remarks, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi has warned Union Minister for State Shashi Tharoor that there should be no more statements from him or the party on what has come to be called Cattlegate.

In a meeting with Tharoor on his return from official foreign visit, Sonia Gandhi is believed to have told Tharoor: “We are worried about you.”

Needless to add, Tharoor, who is minister of State for External Affairs, tweeted last week following an instruction from Congress asking ministers to travel economy class had twitted that he would travel “cattle class”.

To the remarks, his party reacted strongly, criticizing the minister for using a term offensive to thousands of Indians who fly economy. Tharoor has since clarified that he meant no offense and that his Tweet was meant to be humourous.

The issue broke out and blew up while the minister was on an official tour to Liberia and Ghana. Congress party in Delhi warned that action would be taken against him “at an appropriate time”.  The matter got so controversial that it took the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to help cool tempers. At his iftaar party on Friday, Manmohan Singh clarified that Tharoor meant his Tweet as a joke.

The Congress has told its ministers to fly economy class as part of a new austerity drive to express solidarity with a country struck by drought and price-rise. Tharoor was actually a flashpoint for that drive.

Sonia Gandhi was disturbed with media reports that Tharoor, and senior External Affairs Minister, SM Krishna, were both staying at 5-star hotels while their official residences were being renovated.  Both ministers were paying for their hotels. However, Gandhi asked for both ministers to move out immediately.

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