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Shashi Tharoor talks to CNN-News18 about surgical strikes, foreign policy, Modi, Congress

In an interview to CNN-News18, Congress MP and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor talked about the surgical strikes conducted by the Indian Army across the Line of Control, the Congress leadership and its future, India's foreign policy and his view of the government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On being asked whether the government should have provided proof for the surgical strikes, Tharoor said that even though he felt that the word of the Indian Army was good enough, releasing the co-ordinates of the places the strikes took place would not compromise national security.

"Since the Pakistanis know where they were hit, we would not be revealing anything secret, but the incontrovertible facts would have given the lie to the Pakistani propaganda that there were no strikes and the whole thing was just an Indian PR exercise," he told CNN-News18.

 Shashi Tharoor talks to CNN-News18 about surgical strikes, foreign policy, Modi, Congress

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. Reuters

Tharoor also said that Pakistan had not been isolated globally. "Both China and the US, and many other countries, have significant and substantial reasons for staying engaged with Pakistan," he said. He did, however, also say that other countries had been convinced that Pakistan's continued sponsorship of terrorism against India was unacceptable.

Tharoor also said that the media had misinterpreted Rahul Gandhi's 'khoon ki dalali' remark against Modi. "The Indian media is excessively fond of focusing on a word or a phrase rather than looking at its meaning...He was clearly saying that the ruling party was trying to make political capital out of the blood of our soldiers. Just look at the hoardings and posters the BJP has put out in UP and you will get his point," he said.

The Congress MP also said that even though he was the chair of the parliamentary panel on foreign affairs on the surgical strikes, he maintained silence after controversy broke on foreign secretary S Jaishankar's briefings to the panel because the rules of the panel required confidentiality. He added that breaking this promise of confidentiality could undermine his credibility to future witnesses who testified before him.

When asked whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would be better for India as US President, Tharoor said, "Undoubtedly Hillary," adding that Trump did not realise "the severe limitations he would face in implementing some of his more controversial ideas" when it came to India.

He also clarified that the US was not India's "ally" but "partner". He also warned against attaching too much importance to ties with the US because it would alienate China. "We have a long-stalemated border dispute with them which we don’t want to see flare up," he told CNN-News18.

Tharoor also said that he would definitely travel abroad to make India's case if he was asked to do so by the government.

On Modi's reference to Balochistan during his Independence Day speech, Tharoor said that there was a fine line "between showing Pakistan that they have a mote in their on eye" and "seeming to reduce international politics to a tu-tu-main-main exercise" and even though the government had come close to crossing that line, it had not crossed it yet.

On being asked what he would do to "fix" the Congress, Tharoor said, "No further delays in the leadership transition and organisational change; a strong emphasis on revitalising the party grassroots machinery; revival of the practice of the party workers using the period between elections to perform social work in their constituencies; and more public communication of the party’s ideas, are among my recommendations."

When asked to pick one attribute in Modi he admired, Tharoor said he admired the Prime Minister's personal energy and the fact that he was tireless in his domestic and international travels.

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Updated Date: Oct 27, 2016 08:32:33 IST

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