Sunanda is merely trying to keep Shashi out of harm’s way; after all, his lover is a Pakistani agent.
French President Francois Hollande’s affair with actress Julie Gayet, a divorced mother of two, created a storm in a country otherwise known not to care about the naughty games men and women play.
In 1981, when François Mitterrand became President, he had a seven-year-old daughter with his long-time mistress, Anne Pingeot. A small paper published the story, but the mainstream French media refused to touch it.
In France, nobody bothered about a public figure having a private affair. This seems to have changed.
The French suddenly appear to have become American in the way they perceive sexual flings. Hollande’s dalliance was given wide publicity by the media – much like American President Bill Clinton’s flirtation was with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Hollande’s official companion, Valérie Trierweile — who is treated as the First Lady, even though they are not married – was so upset when she came to know about the affair that she fell ill and had to check into a Paris hospital.
But Indian women may not be as fragile as Valerie. At least one of them was not.
Federal minister Shashi Tharoor’s wife, Sunanda Pushkar, pumped venom into her husband’s Twitter pages the other day after she had got wind of his relationship with a Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar.
Sunanda posted the severest of tweets against Mehr, even calling her an Inter-Services Intelligence agent.
Tharoor tried to control the damage by telling his Twitter fans that his account had been hacked. The story could have been sold, but a scorned Sunanda – breathing fire and fury like Hell – claimed that Tharoor’s account had not been hacked, and that she was the person tweeting. None else.
And why was she doing this? Sunanda was merely trying to keep Shashi out of harm’s way; after all, his lover was a Pakistani agent.
Shashi was a bright kid, once upon a time that is, and his father, The Statesman’s Advertising Manager (those were not the days of fancy designations like vice-president) during the punishing days of the Indira Gandhi-imposed Emergency, and I were friends, though he was much older to me.
I remember attending Shashi’s first marriage to a Kolkata girl from whom he has two sons, if I am right. That marriage broke when Shashi fell in love with Christa, a Canadian, when both were working for the United Nations in New York.
Shashi divorced Christa when Sunanda walked by him. That was a grand romance which culminated in marriage with the bridegroom’s party arriving for the wedding in helicopters! The affair and the marriage ceremony had all the ingredients that go to make a tabloid tale.
Here was a politician (a Congressman) in the middle of a corruption scandal (relating to the game of cricket) involved with an attractive woman, and that he had met Sunanda at Dubai made the whole thing sizzling.
Now, Sunanda has added a spoonful of spice to the sizzle by spilling the beans about Shashi’s cross-border romance.
What makes it spicier is that the other woman is a Pakistani—and with New Delhi and Islamabad in a perpetual state of mutual distrust, Mr Tharoor’s transgression can only add to the ruling Congress Party’s embarrassment in the election year. Sunanda’s twittery shrieks have not made matters easier for either.
Gautaman Bhaskaran is India Editor of FMT, and Chennai-based author, columnist and movie critic. He may be emailed at[email protected]