New Delhi: When Shashi Tharoor went to meet him and offered to quit on Sunday afternoon, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appeared emotional and told him he believed he was clean, but he had no choice in the face of an unrelenting opposition that was determined to embarrass the government and hold up important legislative business, sources said.
"The Prime Minister was emotional when he offered to resign. He has a personal liking for Tharoor," sources with access to the former minister of state for external affairs said.
"But he was forced to let him go as a hostile opposition was clamouring for his resignation. His hand was forced as Tharoor's resignation was the only way to break the parliamentary logjam," the sources told IANS.
Had it not been for the parliamentary session, Tharoor would have ridden out the storm, the sources felt.
The Prime Minister's reluctance to take a stand on Tharoor's alleged link with Kochi's IPL franchise amid a growing uproar was evident during his overseas trip to the US and Brazil last week. In Washington, the Prime Minister treaded cautiously when he was asked Wednesday on his comments about the Tharoor row, saying he will decide on the issue only after ascertaining facts.
Again, while returning from Brasilia on Saturday, he was cryptic in his reply when asked about the hullabaloo in parliament over the Tharoor issue. "In politics, ups and downs keep happening," was all Manmohan Singh would say.
In fact, as sources pointed out, it was Manmohan Singh, along with Congress President Sonia Gandhi, who decided to make Tharoor, a first-time MP and a former UN diplomat who contested for the post of the UN Secretary General with India's backing , a junior Foreign Minister after he won the Lok Sabha elections from Thiruvananthapuram in May last year with a big margin.
Usually, first-time MPs dont get ministerial jobs, but an exception was made in Tharoor's case because of his international experience and acknowledged professional calibre.