The wife of a senior Indian minister has publicly threatened to divorce him after posting messages about his "rip-roaring affair" on his Twitter account. According to the messages, Shashi Tharoor, India's human resources minister, known as "Minister Twitter" for his social networking profile, had been having an affair with Mehr Tarar, a Pakistani journalist.
His wife, Sunanda Pushkar Tharoor, posted a series of private messages between her husband - who has more than two million Twitter followers - and Ms Tarar on his timeline. One, which appeared to have to been a direct message to the minister from Tarar's account,@mehrtarar, declared: "I love you, Shashi Tharoor. And I go while in love with you, irrevocably, irreversibly, hamesha [always]. Bleeding, but always your Mehr."
The minister, a former candidate for United Nations secretary-general, issued a statement claiming that his Twitter account had been hacked. But his wife later denied this and said she had posted the messages herself to expose how Tarar had "stalked" her husband and their alleged affair.
"Our accounts have not been hacked and I have been sending out these tweets," she said in a statement to the Economic Times. "She is stalking my husband. And you know how men are. He is flattered by the attention… I will not allow this to be done to me. I just can't tolerate this." Pushkar Tharoor told the Indian Express that her husband and Tarar had been having a "rip-roaring affair" since April last year when the journalist interviewed him in New Delhi. It had left her "destroyed as a wife and a woman" and she should now "seek divorce".
Her claims were denied and derided by Tarar, a leader writer for Lahore's Daily Times newspaper, who said: "For a woman to trash another woman linking her with her husband is the lowest form of sickness ever. It's nauseous. No respect for her marriage." Later she mocked her accuser when she appeared to downgrade her claims of an affair to stalking her husband. "From an 'affair' it has become 'stalking'..make up your mind, darlin'. Which one is it?" she asked. She also rejected claims that she had stalked Tharoor and said: "Last I checked it was a two-way thing."
The journalist had written a flattering profile of Tharoor after their New Delhi interview in which she compared him with the Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan. She noted that he was "strikingly good looking" and "flashed one of his famous disarming smiles as he welcomed me to Delhi". His voice was "powerful, deep, and sensuous", she wrote. The Tharoors later issued a statement in which they said they were "distressed by the unseemly controversy" and denied plans to divorce.
"Unauthorised tweets" had been sent from their Twitter accounts while "some personal and private comments responding to these unauthorised tweets - comments that were not intended for publication - have been misrepresented and led to some erroneous conclusions". They remained "happily married" although "Sunanda has been ill and hospitalised this week and is seeking to rest", the couple said.
Tharoor was forced to resign as a junior foreign minister in 2010 over his role in a consortium that won a lucrative franchise for a Cochin team in the Indian Premier League T20 cricket series. He had been a high-profile supporter of the bid but had not disclosed a 10 million pounds stake awarded to his wife, then his girlfriend, as "sweat capital".