In defence of Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor

Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor

Scandal. Scandal. Scandal.

It’s once again happening to Shashi Tharoor–the very elegant Indian minister of human resource development who resigned from the United Nations after he lost the Secretary-General elections to Ban Ki Moon in 2007. He came home to join politics in 2009 and has had a chequered political career since then, besides being a very popular twitter celebrity.

This time it’s his wife, Sunanda Pushkar, who’s come as a major source of embarrassment, threatening him not only his face, but also his political career. Yesterday, she logged into Tharoor’s twitter account and apparently tweeted messages purportedly sent privately by a Pakistani journalist, Mehr Tarar, to him. Tharoor’s timeline, which is not accessible now because both their accounts are down, was full of tweets in which Tarar expressed very strong romantic feelings for our very suave minister.

Tharoor first said his account was hacked, but his wife gave interviews to newspapers saying she did it deliberately to show the world how her husband was being “stalked”. She even called Tarar a secret agent, an ISI agent. Click here to know more.

Shashi and Sunanda Tharoors have issued a joint statement saying they are happily married and that their accounts were hacked. But has that brought matters to an end? You guessed it.

Everyone seem to be training their guns on Sunanda. She openly called a Pakistani journalist an ISI agent. Everyone is latching on to that line. But before we pronounce her the devil, I think we need to look into the case closely.

First, watch this video.

Then, my disclaimer: I do not support what she did. I think it is silly.

Now, does she not seem to you like the woman next door who’s just discovered that her very dashing husband has been “cheating on her”? Well, she does not say that, she blames it entirely on the “other woman”, Mehr Tarar, which is a very common way many women are known to deal with such situations. They want to confront the issue, yet not blame the husband because they still want the marriages to last. Doesn’t sound too logical, has seldom succeeded and never helps; but still this is one of the standard practices resorted to by many women (and also men). So, she only tweets only Tarar’s messages, to expose only her. Her husband is the innocent one, the one being stalked:

I love you, Shashi Tharoor. And I go while in love with you, irrevocably, irreversibly, hamesha. Bleeding, but always your Mehr, Shashi. I’m not crying any more. I’m not falling to pieces. I’m more lucid than ever. How little I knew you became visible to me.
You unfollowed me. You don’t RT me and you don’t answer me on twitter. I can live with your favourites. I have your personal validation have your personal validation of my words, I don’t need any public one. For that I will wait until we are together publically really mehr
It is the Pakistani journalist who tweets:
So I ‘stalk’ on bbm and phone. The last I checked it was a two-way thing, or maybe technology changed while I ‘stalked’? (quotes from Firstpost)

So, Tarar claims it was a “two-way thing”. But people are more obsessed with coming down on Sunanda that they do not seem to be even wondering what made the woman do something so foolish. I’m not bothered about the extra-marital affair at all (honestly, it does not interest me). I’m just saying when you are making a big news of a wife’s stupidity, why not explain what made her act like that instead of hounding her.

She is just an insecure wife, who has lost her mind on discovering her husband’s escapade. Look, what she says in that NDTV interview:

Basically, a woman must stay away from a woman’s husband. It is wrong.

She even says Tharoor is a politician, who has to defend his face, not she; she is an “aam aadmi” (common man). And in her insistence in getting Tharoor to speak to NDTV and complaining that he’s too busy for “issues like this”, she betrayed a very wifely concern. For her, at this moment, her marriage was the most important issue that needed to be addressed.

Also on twitter, a 2010 Outlook story is being tweeted and retweeted. The story is about how she is “that type” of woman–small town girl with big ambitions and willing to go to any length for it. It also says how she catapulted herself to a high-flying life through marriages of convenience.

First, it is such a sexist piece. Would they have written a similar story if Sunanda were a man? Second, even if she were a “bad woman”, does she not deserve sympathy? Do we have to come down on her because her husband is that suave, intellectual, successful, good-looking politician, who’s “above reproach”?

As a woman, I feel bad for her. I feel sorry. She is a tactless, insecure wife who should have never married a politician. I feel she needs to be shown some understanding and sympathy and her remarks about Pakistani journalist-stalker-ISI agent ignored once and for all. This attack on her smacks of sexism.



1. I am aware of Sunanda’s “history” but am not taking that into account because this doesn’t matter.

2. Tharoor has denied having an affair with Tarar. Even if he hadn’t, my piece is not an opinion on him or his affair. I am not judging him.

Tharoor’s picture is taken from Wikipedia.


  1. Akriti

    Your post is well written but the sad thing is that despite being a woman, even you hinted at Pushkar’s insecurity and not Tharoor’s illicit relationship. Had it not been for her , Mr. Politician would have been into troubled waters long back. As for insecurities, if men don’t want insecurities (ironic because their own insecurity is way large and envy is pitch black in them ), they should remain loyal. I mean the woman was filthy rich and all because of her hard work. She might have been in controversy for her bold outlook and sassy nature but never ever due to her money. Shame on Tharoor for devastating a woman’s life and shame on society for judging. We judge and judge simply by superficiality.


    • Anuradha Sharma

      you are right. sunanda was more sinned against than sinning. this blog only deals one aspect of the whole thing, esp in the light of the bad press and twitter bashing she got just before she died. i purposely did not try to address all the issues in one blog for the fear that they would end up diluting one another. thank you for your comment.



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