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Tharoor sees no ‘foreign hand’

Jaipur, Jan. 24: Union minister Shashi Tharoor today spilled India’s worst-kept secret: there was no “foreign hand”.

At the Jaipur Literature Festival, the politician and author was asked about former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s habitual allusions to the “foreign hand”.

“There is nothing in declassified documents of the CIA to suggest that they were running a campaign to destabilise India or prop up an alternative government,” the Congress minister said, while praising Indira Gandhi’s actions in 1971 as “surefooted” and “visionary”.

However, the former UN diplomat, whose tongue-in-cheek tweets earlier cost him his post as junior foreign minister, added a disclaimer as he expressed his views on a range of foreign policy subjects, even mildly questioning Jawaharlal Nehru’s approach towards Pakistan.

“Pardon my imprudent utterances as a personal view or just assume that all these have been spoken before the October 29 cabinet reshuffle,” he said, the last bit a jocular reference to the date he was re-inducted into the government as junior human resource development minister.

Tharoor, who was speaking about his recent book Pax Indica with journalist Tarun Tejpal, dwelt on India-Pakistan relations too.

“Nehru did not take Pakistan seriously; he had contempt for their government,” he said.

On the current situation, he said war was not an option. “In Pakistan, (the) army has a state; here the state has an army. The Pakistani army wants to keep the pot always bubbling to justify the huge use of government resources.”

Tharoor, however, added that with Pakistan, nothing was predictable. It was during peace talks that the 2008 Mumbai attacks happened. “With Pakistan, we have all smashed our crystal ball long ago.”

The Thiruvananthapuram MP said China had moved far away from communism and that its foreign policy was dictated by its economic interests alone.

“One of my businessman friends in China told me during a recent visit that you may search high and low (but) you will not find a communist in China. If you want to look for a communist, you will have to go to Kerala,” Tharoor said.

Indo-China relations can no longer be jeopardised over boundary or other issues, he asserted.

“Trade has grown over the years by 250 times. By 2015, the government estimates that the trade will be worth Rs 100 billion. And when Western markets are shrinking, China will no longer want to go on a war with India jeopardising its trade interests,” he said.