The climate was “mutually hostile” but some matters like foreign policy were above political rivalry with most parties largely on the same side, Congress leader and author Shashi Tharoor said here today.
Tharoor was speaking at a session titled “Inglorious Empire” at the eighth edition of the Mountain Echoes literary festival here.
“We try to shake hands over the political divide, but the climate in the country has become mutually hostile, and such matters need to be bipartisan to succeed,” he said.
He referred to an initiative he undertook to find a solution to deteriorating air quality in the country, especially in Delhi. He assembled a bunch of experts, including from NGOs, for the effort.
“I invited a number of BJP MPs and they all backed out… a party currently flirting with the BJP also got instructions to not attend as a Congress MP was convening it. But it’s true that at the end of the day we certainly need to work together,” he said.
In matters like foreign affairs, however, all parties are largely on the same side, the Congress MP said. “…as chairman of the foreign affairs committee, the external affairs committee of the Parliament, I would say on foreign policy issues we are largely bipartisan.
“I have always argued that there is no Congress foreign policy or BJP foreign policy, there is only Indian foreign policy. Remember, I chair a committee where majority of the members are from BJP… nonetheless, we never had a disagreement or a dissent note,” he said.
There were no dissent notes even on reports on India- Pakistan relations.
“The committee has witnessed 16 reports in the last three years. Like the report on India Pakistan relations… but there was no dissent, it was a unanimous report,” said the prolific author of books such as “An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India” and “Nehru: The Invention of India”.
Discussing the representation of history, Tharoor noted that history had become “contested territory”. “History has become contested territory in our country, starting with the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. It was the first major nationwide effort to essentially and pretty crudely take revenge upon history.
“And I think this is most unfortunate not just because it aims to undo what was done centuries ago, and simply create new wrongs and new injustices against innocent people, but also because, as I have argued, history takes it own revenge.”