KOLKATA: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Thursday praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his gesture of congratulating him after winning the Lok Sabha elections, saying he did not expect him to reach out after their "nasty" spat.
At the same time, Tharoor was critical of the Modi government, saying there is a huge gap between rhetoric and reality.
Tharoor, whose wife Sunanda Pushkar's mysterious death has led police to register a murder case and triggered a controversy, also lashed out at the media, alleging it is "irresponsible".
"I didn't expect him(Modi) to reach out and that's why I was very impressed," the Congress MP said during a media interaction at the launch of his book "India Shashtra" in the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival.
"I was surprised because Modi had not shown signs of reconciliation with an opponent before that. He and I had also clashed quite clearly and explicitly 3 to 8 months previously when he had said something about my wife," he said, recalling Modi's "nasty" tweet about Sunanda.
In an apparent attack on Pushkar, Modi had said at a Lok Sabha election rally in Shimla last year, "Wah kya girlfriend hai. Aapne kabhi dekha hai 50 crore ki girlfriend?" (What a girlfriend? Have you ever seen a 50-crore girlfriend).
Tharoor had later taken on Modi by tweeting, "My wife is worth a lot more than your imaginary 50 crores. She is priceless."
Tharoor, who had accepted the Prime Minister's invitation to join the 'Swachh Bharat' mission of the NDA government, said, "I must admit that I was taken aback. It was a very gracious thing to do".
Tharoor recalled that Modi had also reached out to him earlier on Twitter but that had political reasons as he had appealed to him to get young voters to register.
"I joined because that was the cause I believed in," he said.
Tharoor did not take any questions from the media when asked about the Sunanda murder case.
He also praised BJP for including more women in the party, terming it as a "healthy sign".
"I am pleased that the BJP is finally making room for the right gender because that was a very very male dominant government and a male dominant party. So that's a healthy sign."
In a no-holds-barred attack on the media, Tharoor said that the advent of 24/7 TV channels and the pressure of breaking news and TRPs have led to a race to the bottom in terms of sensation, voyeurism and headline grabbing.
"I have been misquoted in media, being defamed now day in and day out," he said, adding, the media is "free and irresponsible".
"90 per cent of Indian journalists do not record what I am saying. Almost every quote attributed to me in the Indian media is an inadequate para-phrase by the journalist of what he thinks I said.
"My fluency is only valued to those who are actually hearing me. If tomorrow there is a newspaper article about this, I guarantee the quotes will be wrong".