It's not unusual for Shashi Tharoor, our favourite English teacher, to make us scurry for our dictionaries. But it seems the dramatic wee hour developments at Mumbai Raj Bhawan have left the Congress leader suddenly at a loss of new words. So, he gave us one of his old gems, yet again.
In 2017, Tharoor tweeted the word 'snollygoster' as the 'word of the day'. "Definition of *snollygoster*. US dialect: a shrewd, unprincipled politician. First Known Use: 1845. Most recent use: 26/7/17,” the Congress MP tweeted.
The word, as most predicted, was intended as a jibe at Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar. This is the time when the Janata Dal(United) chief broke away from the Mahagathbandhan or the grand alliance with Rashtriya Janata Dal and Congress and returned to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) despite being foes for a long time. Kumar’s move had come after RJD chief Lalu Prasad rejected the demand for his son and deputy chief minister Tejashwi’s resignation over alleged railway hotel tender scam.
Two years later, according to Tharoor, snollygoster is still the word to describe Indian politicians.
After the recent developments in Maharasthra, Tharoor tweeted a correction to his two-year-old tweet. "Correction: Most recent use: 23 November 2019, Mumbai."
On November 23 early morning, BJP’s Devendra Fadnavis took oath as the Maharashtra chief minister for a second term while Nationalist Conference Party chief Sharad Pawar's nephew, Ajit Pawar, became his deputy. This happened while Sharad Pawar had proposed Uddhav Thackaray’s name for the CM’s post after leaving the Shiv Sena-Congress-NCP joint meet in the same evening.
There had been no word on whether the NCP as a party had decided to join hands with the BJP or a faction of NCP led by Ajit Pawar broke away. What added to the speculation was the fact that no other NCP leader was present at the oath-taking ceremony. The only ones there were Ajit Pawar and his family. For a formal split to be recognized under the anti-defection law, at least two thirds of the legislature party needs to break away from the parent party. In this case, at least 36 MLAs from the NCP need to form a separate group.
Meanwhile, Sharad Pawar tweeted that Ajit Pawar's decision to support the BJP to form the Maharashtra government was his personal decision and not that of the Nationalist Congress Party. “We place on record that we do not support or endorse this decision of his,” Pawar said in a tweet, distancing himself from the coup.
Of course, this isn't new in Indian politics.
In 2007 in neighbouring Karnataka, a faction of the JD(S) had rebelled against HD Deve Gowda to form the government with the BJP. Gowda’s son Kumaraswamy led the rebel group to become the Chief Minister for the first time which the former PM disapproved in public. The government lasted one year, and later Gowda and son Kumarawamy patched up.
But who's Tharoor taking the dig at? Devendra Fadnavis? Sharad Pawar? or Ajit?