Delhi Bloggers’ Bloc conducted DBM#30 on 21st May 2009 at The Attic, Connaught Place. It was convened at such a short interval after DBM#29 because noted author
, former UN diplomat and now-politician Shashi Tharoor was in town (silly me – of course he would be in town…he’s in the friggin’ Parliament!). He agreed to attend the event. The venue had space for 60 people, but a little bird told me that only 42 people turned up.
While we were waiting for him to arrive, some of us bloggers / twitterers were joking that we would be able to estimate how corrupt Shashi Tharoor is (or isn’t) by observing how late he turned up for the meet. And he arrived right on time! Shashi Tharoor spoke about his impressions of social media (he tweets too) and whatever small role it played during the election process. His campaign manager also spoke about the use of technology beyond Internet, such as automated phone calls. A valid query which was raised at this point was that in the 2004 India Shining campaign, the BJP had automated calls with recordings of Vajpayee played too – and weren’t that successful. The answer was that in this particular case they tried to make the call sound as ‘realistic’ as possible, with ambient background noise (BJP campaign had ‘India Shining’ elevator music playing in the background), pause after saying hello, recording was in Malayalam etc. Which makes me think – if the call was so realistic then why didn’t the voters think it was rude of the bloke at the other end to not have a proper conversation and hang up abruptly. Not all the voters would be tongue-tied, would they?
There was a Q&A session which took up most part of the meet. Old people mostly hung around and listened while the youth brigade kept pestering him with questions ranging from ‘effectiveness of the UN’, ‘sequel to his book The Great Indian Novel
‘, to ‘is the Congress party considering listening to feedback on the blogosphere, now that they have an MP who tweets’ (that was me). Shashi Tharoor cames across as a really candid and honest guy saying stuff other politicians wouldn’t have the balls to say off-the-record. As interesting as it was, the session had to be wrapped up because he had another interview scheduled at The Park hotel nearby. Before he left he was gheraoed for autographs, photographs, childhood reminiscences and ‘Parliamentary language’ (read ‘pull him by the kurta and go “No, you answer my question first!”). The gentleman in question had to make a precipitous escape to stay on schedule for his next interview.