New Delhi. In an exclusive chat with Faking News before leaving for Ghana and Liberia, two of the most poorest counties of the world where he would have no choice but to live in austerity, Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor clarified his ‘cattle class’ remark, claiming that he didn’t use it to disrespect the aam aadmi (common man) of India. Tharoor blamed “jackasses” among Indian media and political class for misinterpreting and misrepresenting his tweet.
Following are the excerpts from the exclusive interview, which incidentally is the first ever interview of a human being by Faking News. Earlier we had interviewed two pigeons (Masakali of Delhi-6 and an aam kabootar of Mumbai) and one monkey (Monkeyman of Delhi). The interview was conducted in Mr. Tharoor’s car and lasted around couple of hours as his car got stuck in a traffic jam near Dhaula Kuaan on way to Indira Gandhi International Airport.
Faking News (FN): Thanks for letting us in your car Mr. Tharoor, we never saw such a luxurious car. Are you using tax payers’ money for this?
Shashi Tharoor (ST): (exhaustedly) yeah, I use taxpayer’s money to buy my diamond studded underwear too. Happy? Jackasses (murmurs)! People like you create all such confusion by assuming anything and everything.
FN: I’m sorry sir, but we never published any story about your comment or your lavish lifestyle. We are a news organization with a difference. We are in fact here to clear the confusion, instead of creating one. Do you want us to continue with the interview?
ST: hmmm… well, I’d take that on face value. Anyway, this traffic is hardly moving and I can’t even access my Twitter account on my iPhone. I have written to the Telecom Ministry to allot 3G spectrum as soon as possible, but we take so much time in taking any decision. I’m anyways bored so let’s continue.
FN: Thanks minister. So let’s start with the latest controversy, you apparently insulted the common man of India by calling them holy cows traveling in cattle class.
ST: That’s bullshit. First of all common man hardly travels by air, let alone business class or economy class. I’m surprised the way our media and political class defines aam aadmi. You guys can’t think beyond the middle and upper middle classes. Even if ‘cattle class’ is deemed as a hurtful term, it hardly hurts the aam aadmi, who actually rides cattle in the villages.
FN: So it’s alright to hurt the sentiments of middle classes?
ST: That’s your interpretation. I’d not clarify each and every thing that you go on to assume. I have seen many Indians playing FarmVille on facebook and they love to raise cattle and proudly publish the same on their walls. I guess the Indian middle class doesn’t find it hurtful to be saddled with cattle.
FN: What about ‘holy cows’?
ST: I don’t know how is that a hurtful term! Being called a cow has never been deemed as insulting in our country. The term ‘cow belt’ has been used for ages to define Hindi speaking areas, no one ever objected to it. Whoever is making such interpretations!
FN: Our Managing Editor Pagal Patrakar thinks that you used the term ‘holy cows’ for the Congress leaders who are on austerity drive, and you meant to say that you’d travel, rather unwillingly, by economy class to show solidarity with likes of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Is that true?
ST: Again, that’s your interpretation. In fact a Pagal’s interpretation. No comments.
FN: But what’s your take on austerity drive?
ST: It’s a nice idea.
FN: Apparently you didn’t like it, especially when you were told to vacate a five-star suite, expenses of which were being paid from your personal accounts as you claim?
ST: Okay, since you claim to be a news organization with a difference, let me tell you something. Dude, I feel this is going too far. Tomorrow they’d ask me to wear Rupa’s briefs and vests even though I like Versace. My lifestyle is my personal matter. There are people who fake personal travel as official one and then claim austerity by traveling in cattle class. That’s not austerity, that’s corruption!
FN: But shouldn’t you lead an exemplary life as a central minister?
ST: By wearing Rupa’s underwears? What kind of message would that send, if at all any? That even if one can afford a better lifestyle, one should not spend money? If I spend from my own pocket, I am actually doing good to our economy in these adverse conditions by increasing circulation of money in the market. Is that so difficult to understand?
FN: So you don’t like austerity at all? You believe in ‘if you have it, flaunt it’?
ST: Another of your interpretations. And who told you that I am not austere? When everyone, including Advani, took to blogging, I took to micro-blogging (twitter). Isn’t that austerity? I use so few words to express myself. I save hundreds of words each time I tweet.
FN: That’s an interesting point you make minister, but people are already baying for your blood. Media reports suggest that your party can take disciplinary action against you for your ‘cattle class’ remark. And now after we publish your interview, you might be expelled from the party!
ST: (sighs) That’d be really sad.
Faking News: Thanks for your time minister. We wish you all the best and a happy journey.
Shashi Tharoor: My pleasure. I might like to tweet about you sometime.