Hyderabad: Newly-appointed Telangana Congress president Revanth Reddy, on whom the party has pinned its hopes for a revival in the state, apologised Thursday after receiving severe criticism across the board for calling party MP Shashi Tharoor “a donkey”.
Reddy allegedly made the comment Wednesday, when he was speaking informally to the media in Hyderabad. He took exception to Tharoor praising K.T. Rama Rao (KTR), the Telangana IT minister and son of Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao.
Tharoor, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, had visited the state on 7 September. As part of the visit, the committee visited the state’s T-Hub (Technology Hub) — a government initiative incorporated in 2015 as an innovation and business incubator providing start-ups access to technology and investors, among other resources.
Following the visit, Tharoor not only praised the ‘T-Hub’ but also said he was “hugely impressed” with KTR and his team.
Hugely impressive presentation by @KTRTRS &his team. I said that as with foreign policy,we need to look beyond political divides on IT policy. If @ministerktr is setting an example in Telengana that the rest of us can benefit from, we can all gain from a forward-looking IT policy https://t.co/q2Lx25IQIG
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) September 9, 2021
On Wednesday, Revanth Reddy, who reportedly did not have any information about Tharoor’s visit to the state, allegedly opined that KTR and Tharoor were of the same category — fluent in English but not knowledgeable. He also reportedly said that Tharoor should be expelled from the Congress.
Apology after flak
Reddy’s alleged remarks sparked a war of words with KTR. Reacting to the news, the IT minister called Reddy a “3rd rate criminal/thug”, to which the state Congress president responded by referring to KTR as a “born liar and looter”.
KTR then released what he said was an audio-tape of the exchange, but not before he called Reddy a “scumbag”.
Reddy also faced flak from senior Congress party leaders such as Manish Tewari, who tweeted Thursday that if Reddy had any misgivings about any of Tharoor’s remarks, he should have approached him personally. He also called on the Telangana Congress president to withdraw his remarks.
Dear Mr @revanth_anumula
Dr @ShashiTharoor is a valued colleague of yours & mine It would have been better if you would have spoken to him if you had some misgivings about a purported statement of his.
Grace & Propriety demands you withdraw your words.
— Manish Tewari (@ManishTewari) September 16, 2021
Later in the day, Reddy apologised, and added that he held Tharoor “in the highest regard”.
I spoke to shri @ShashiTharoor ji to convey that I hereby withdraw the remarks and reiterate that I hold my senior colleague in the highest regard. I regret any hurt that may have been caused to him by my words. We share our faith in the values and policies of the Congress Party.
— Revanth Reddy (@revanth_anumula) September 16, 2021
He, however, received some backing from MP Manickam Tagore, the Congress’ Telangana in-charge. Tagore took a dig at the media Thursday for leaking an “off-the-record” conversation.
“When journalists record off the record conversation and send it to people in power what you will think about him/her? Supari Journalist,” he tweeted.
When Journalists record off the record conversation and send it to people in power what you will think about him / her ? Supari Journalist 😉
— Manickam Tagore .B🇮🇳✋மாணிக்கம் தாகூர்.ப (@manickamtagore) September 17, 2021
Tagore is considered to be one of Reddy’s close aides, and played a key role in the latter being elevated as state president, despite having joined the party only four years ago.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)