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Tuesday, July 5, 2022

‘Done in good humour,’ says Shashi Tharoor as photo with ‘attractive’ women MPs gets him trolled

A photo posted by Congress MP Shashi Tharoor Monday morning, featuring him and some women MPs attending the first day of the winter session of Parliament, got him trolled for allegedly “objectifying” his fellow parliamentarians.

The photo featured Supriya Sule of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Nusrat Jahan and Mimi Chakraborty of the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Thamizhachi Thangapandian of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and Jothimani and Preneet Kaur of the Congress. It was accompanied by the caption, “Who says the Lok Sabha isn’t an attractive place to work?”

This attracted opprobrium from many quarters, including National Commission for Women chairperson Rekha Sharma, who shared the tweet and said, “Stop objectifying women in Parliament.” Others struck a similar note, criticising Tharoor for reducing “elected political leaders to their looks” and calling his post “sexist”.

Several journalists were among those who called out Tharoor.

Tharoor later clarified that the photo — a selfie that appears to have been clicked by Chakraborty — had been taken and shared at the initiative of the women MPs themselves, and that he was “sorry” that “some people are offended”.

Who are the MPs in the photo?

Mimi Chakraborty and Nusrat Jahan are MPs from the Mamata-Banerjee led TMC, now the ruling party in Bengal for a third consecutive term. Both are popular Bengali actors who joined the party in 2019 and were given a Lok Sabha ticket for the elections that year.

The TMC and Tharoor’s party, the Congress, have been at loggerheads in the recent past as the former, in its bid to expand nationally, has inducted many Congress leaders into its fold.

Supriya Sule, an NCP MP from Maharashtra, is the daughter of party supremo Sharad Pawar. The NCP and the Congress are both part of the ruling coalition in Maharashtra, together with the Shiv Sena. Sule has hailed the Congress as a “pillar of Opposition unity” in the past, but Pawar continues to maintain cordial relations with Mamata Banerjee and is expected to meet her when she visits Mumbai on 30 November.

Preneet Kaur is the Congress MP from Patiala, Punjab, and wife of former Congress leader and former Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh. Less than a week ago, the Congress had issued a show-cause notice to Kaur for “anti party activities”, admonishing her for statements she allegedly made to the media in support of the Punjab Lok Congress, the party Amarinder has floated.

Of the other two, Jothimani, Congress MP from Karur in Tamil Nadu, was in the news last week for an alleged “cold war” between her and a Tamil Nadu minister, Senthil Balaji of the DMK. The DMK and the Congress are allies in the Tamil Nadu government. The final person in the photo is DMK MP Thamizhachi Thangapandian.

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