A day after the Congress appointed Shashi Tharoor a party spokesperson, a senior leader of key ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said Wednesday he expected the Union minister to “disassociate himself from all ministerial and government responsibilities” till the probe into the sudden death of his wife Sunanda was over.
“We are all with Shashi Tharoor in this time of grief and we mourn Sunanda Pushkar’s death. Mr Tharoor has rightly pledged that he will cooperate with the investigating agencies. However, the matter is serious and since investigations are on, I expect Mr Tharoor will disassociate himself from all ministerial and government responsibilities till the probe is over,” NCP general secretary and spokesperson D P Tripathi said.
NCP sources, however, said these were Tripathi’s individual views and the party had not discussed the matter. Tripathi told The Indian Express later Tharoor could “disassociate himself” by not attending office and doing ministry-related work. The NCP spokesperson also said there was the principle and question of “propriety” which Tharoor “knows much better than anybody else”.
Tripathi, however, dismissed suggestions that his demand was due to compulsions of politics in Kerala where the NCP is part of the Opposition Left Democratic Front. He also clarified that he wasn’t asking Tharoor to step down as minister but merely to keep away from the ministry till the investigations were on.
The NCP is a crucial ally of the Congress at the Centre and the parties are ruling coalition partners in Maharashtra. The Congress defended Tharoor and said there was “no question” of him resigning. “When there is no charge and nobody is alleging any role of Tharoor, why should he resign?” party spokesperson Randip Surjewala said.
Sunanda, 52, was found dead in a five-star hotel in South Delhi Friday night. Her son Shiv Menon, meanwhile, said his mother was “too strong” to commit suicide and that both Tharoor and she were “very much in love” despite their “occasional differences” and that he did not believe Tharoor was capable of harming her physically.