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WATCH! Shashi Tharoor: 'Modi is a great salesman'

By Hitesh Harisinghani, Rajesh Karkera, Vaihayasi Pande Daniel
Last updated on: December 30, 2018 09:24 IST
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'People have realised they bought into the prime minister's package and it is empty.'
Shashi Tharoor on why the Indian voter may not vote for Narendra Damodardas Modi in 2019.
Videos: Hitesh Harisinghani/ and Rajesh Karkera/
Interview: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel/

 Shashi Tharoor. Photograph: Rajesh Karkera/

A miniature metal Indian flag is pinned to the front of his sky-blue Nehru jacket.

From his breast pocket pokes out a grey silk handkerchief. Trendy Clic spectacles garland his neck.

His kurta is black silk. The look is elegant (in spite of the additional avoirdupois he is carrying about).

The hair at his temples is silver. A disobedient lock of hair keeps flopping onto his forehead in a boyish way.

His voice and diction is as smooth as rich dark Belgian chocolate.

He might have baltis and baltis of charm. An infectious smile. And an agile mind.

But that's not his appeal.

It is the abundance of energy radiating from the always dapper, always articulate Shashi Tharoor, 62, that lends him magnetic charisma.

As he briskly and cheerfully lopes into the room at Taj Land's End, Bandra, north west Mumbai, from a previous engagement, simultaneously fielding back-to-back messages and calls on his cellphone, the Congress MP from Thiruvanthipuram and former minister, swiftly switches gears to be totally interview ready.

He effortlessly shoots off eloquent, many-worded answers to the questions posed to him, revealing his ability to twirl many hats at one go -- author, MP, former diplomat, public speaker, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and Congress leader.

There aren't too many multi-taskers like Shashi Tharoor.

In the run-up to Election 2019 Dr Tharoor is a busy man. Along with former finance minister P Chidambaram, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and several other high-powered Congress-wallahs he is helping draw up the party manifesto to be presented to the Indian electorate well before spring begins.

Dr Tharoor was in Mumbai to speak at the Times Lit Fest about his new book The Paradoxical Prime Minister: Narendra Modi And His India.

Later in conversation with he often dwells on the vast inconsistencies Narendra Damodardas Modi presents, who he says is a prime minister with often very inspired ideas that, he notices, he chooses not to implement, opting to concentrate on a more Hindutva-oriented agenda.

The two-term Lok Sabha MP also offers Gandhi family doubters some solid reasons why a Congress led by Rahul Gandhi is a far more experienced, consensus-based option than anything Modi can put together.


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What do you consider are Mr Modi's strengths?


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On your travels have you noticed that the sentiments towards Mr Modi in the country are any different from say five years ago?


Sometimes it seems that Mr Modi's main appeal, even among the best educated, is the anti-Muslim reaction that has been generated in the country over the last five years? Does that worry you?


Do you have a new word, you recently came across, for our readers?


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Hitesh Harisinghani, Rajesh Karkera, Vaihayasi Pande Daniel