Shashi TharoorImage via Wikipedia

Some lines just can't be crossed… if you do, you'll pay the price…



India's Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Shashi Tharoor. AFP

NEW DELHI - A row about Twitter went to the top of India's ruling party yesterday, when an Internet-savvy junior minister who made a joke about "holy cow" politicians was called to explain himself.

The Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Shashi Tharoor (picture), a former United Nations communications chief believed to be the only Twittering minister, held a meeting with Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi about the controversy.

Some news reports suggested he might even lose his job, though television station IBN-CNN said that Mrs Gandhi had "pulled him up" over the issue.

Mr Tharoor has been caught up in a row about austerity measures in the government that saw ministers taking economy-class air travel.

Asked on Twitter if he was travelling economy on a trip to the southern state of Kerala, he replied: "Absolutely, in cattle class out of solidarity with all our holy cows!"

Cows are considered sacred in Hindu-majority India and Mr Tharoor faced resignation calls from the opposition and the Congress chief minister of the large state of Rajasthan.

Even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was asked to comment on the row, called the remark a "joke" on Monday.

Mr Tharoor made no comment to reporters as he left the meeting with Mrs Gandhi, but the lesson appears to have been learnt in a country where social media such as Twitter are taking off - albeit slowly - in the political class.

On Sept 17 he tweeted: "I now realise I should not assume people will appreciate humour and you shouldn't give those who would wilfully distort your words an opportunity to do so (sic)." AFP

From TODAY, World – Wednesday, 23-Sep-2009

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