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Rediff.com  » News » Leave Shashi Tharoor alone, says Salman Khurshid at JLF

Leave Shashi Tharoor alone, says Salman Khurshid at JLF

Last updated on: January 19, 2014 19:19 IST

Expressing his disappointment with the media over its coverage of the death of Sunanda Pushkar, the External Affairs Minister said the media should set the bar higher for itself and not stoop to such levels. Rediff.com's Sanchari Bhattacharya reports.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Sunday dismissed concerns that the shocking death of Sunanda Pushkar -- wife of Union minister Shashi Tharoor -- may become a worrying issue for the Congress in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls.

“Why will it affect the Congress? What has the Congress got to do with it,” Khurshid told Rediff.com on the sidelines of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

Visibly annoyed at being repeatedly asked about Pushkar’s death by media personnel at the event, Khurshid told Rediff.com, “I think we should learn to respect people’s privacy, especially during a time of grief. It is a personal matter and we should treat it like one. We need to respect the sentiments of the family members of Sunanda Tharoor and Shashi Tharoor and leave them alone”.

He also expressed his disappointment with the media over its coverage of the issue.

“At a time like this, the media should set the bar higher for itself and not stoop to such levels. If that (media playing up the issue) keeps on happening, it will be a very sad thing for all of us,” he said.

When Rediff.com asked him if the Indian government’s response to the Devyani Khobragade episode had been sufficient, especially as the United States would have retaliated far more severely if one of its diplomats had been arrested in India, strip-searched and thrown in lock-up, Khurshid retorted, “We don’t need to emulate anyone else.”

“We have our own high standards; we don’t need to climb down from them. We don’t need to submit to someone else’s standards to make a point,” said Khurshid.

Earlier, while fielding a question on India-Pakistan’s troubled ties during an event at the JLF, Khurshid said, “It is a complicated question (why bilateral ties have not normalised). We have been trying to improve ties for years. But hum aapni pehchaan toh nahi meeta sakte (we can’t let go of our national identity)”.

He also claimed that New Delhi had played a vital, albeit unpublicised, role during Iran’s negotiations with the West over its contentious nuclear programme.

“We did play a part in building confidence between both parties. We played a part in keeping the confidence levels high and tempers in check,” he said.

Khurshid also dismissed reports about India’s tacit support to the controversial general elections recently held in Bangladesh.

“People have a right to choose their own government. We don’t dictate solutions to other nations for their internal problems. When Maldives and Myanmar went for polls, we helped them with logistics but didn’t get involved otherwise. India didn’t personally back the polls in Bangladesh, or in any other country,” he said.

The foreign minister added, “The destiny of Bangladesh is in the hands of its people. We can’t decide their destiny, just like nobody else should decide our destiny. We wish well for Bangladesh and hope that they initiate a dialogue for reconciliation soon.”

Sanchari Bhattacharya in Jaipur