Manish Tewari holds a press conference on NDA's Rafale deal
Manish Tewari at a press conference | Congress Youtube
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New Delhi: Congress MP Manish Tewari gave a long and animated speech in the Lok Sabha during a debate on the J&K Reorganisation Bill 2019 Tuesday, outlining the state’s entire history.

But the seasoned lawyer slipped up when Home Minister Amit Shah asked him a question, resorting to a dubious literature reference to voice his concerns about the government’s decision to strip J&K’s special status, bifurcate it and reduce it to a union territory.

As Tewari weighed in on J&K’s days as a princely state, going on to describe its tenuous political situation today, Shah eventually asked him: What exactly is the Congress’ stance on Article 370?

Tewari responded, “Angrezi ki ek kitaab hai — har cheez kaali ya safed nahi hoti (There’s a book in English everything isn’t black or white) … There are fifty shades of grey in between.”

Tewari’s intention was clear, to suggest that the complex issue of J&K’s special status and bifurcation couldn’t be looked at in simplistic terms. But his reference to the blockbuster erotic novel, the first of a series by British author E.L. James that explores the world of BDSM, was a curious one.

Did the lawmaker think the book was actually about ambiguities in the Indian Constitution, or was he making a larger point about politics and… strange bedfellows? Dominance? Sadism? One will never know.

Even if his fellow parliamentarians didn’t react (either because they didn’t get it or because they didn’t hear it), the damage was already done as the good people of the internet lost no time in cracking jokes about the minister’s reading habits.

Different shades of Congress

The fact that Shah had to ask Tewari to clearly state his party’s stance on the issue was embarrassing in itself, as the Congress has utterly failed to display a unified stand. Milind Deora proffered a diplomatic statement, while Jyotiraditya Scindia fully supported abrogation of 370, though not the means by which it is being done.


Rahul Gandhi, who tweeted this morning, said: “This abuse of executive power has grave implications for our national security.”

Meanwhile, Congress’ leader in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury embarrassed the party further by questioning whether the Jammu & Kashmir issue was an internal matter at all.

In all this, for Tewari to muddy the waters further with his fifty shades remark seems like one more own goal for the Congress.

Fifty Shades of Grey, the novel Tewari tried to educate his peers about, follows the relationship and bedroom exploits of college student Anastasia Steele and the much-older business tycoon Christian Grey.

Featuring sexually-explicit scenes involving the use of ropes, toys, blindfolds and sexual practices such as spanking, the trilogy follows the trajectory of their bond (pun intended) from the first meeting to hooking up, then breaking up, and getting back together, with plenty of fights and make-up sex in between.

Initially self-published, the first book was picked up by a publishing company and became a worldwide sensation close to a decade ago, despite largely negative reviews.

It has sold more than 150 million copies and spawned sequels and a movie franchise that has grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

Starring Dakota Johnson as Anastasia and Jamie Dornan as Christian, the films, like the novels, have been panned by critics. The first two films were banned in India.

Author Tewari

As it happens, Tewari’s literature-inspired retort came the same day Shah distributed copies of his book — a collection of his speeches on Right-wing leaders titled Sanskritik Rashtravad Ke Shilpi (Architects of Cultural Nationalism) — in Parliament.

Tewari, an author himself, published his third book, The Fables of Fractured Times, this year, a compilation of his write-ups on politics and governance for the media. A far cry from erotic fiction.

Also read: Congress betrayal of Kashmir like Lady Macbeth’s: Vaiko on scrapping of Article 370


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1 Comment Share Your Views


  1. Three body blows on the same afternoon: 1. Adhir’s self Goal.. 2. Manish Tiwari openly speaking of the book “Fifty Shades of Grey” without realising that it is ‘Erotica’ and unmentionable in the Parliament, and 3. Jyotiraditya Scindia, a General Secretary of the Congress, openly supporting the burial of Article 370. Will Congress recover from this knockout? Very doubtful.


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