The incident occurred when Shashi Tharoor, a former Under Secretary-General at the UN and senior Congress party leader, erroneously related 18th Century Urdu-Persian poet Mirza Ghalib with a couplet on what he thought was the poet's 220th birthday.
ख़ुदा की मोहब्बत को फ़ना कौन करेगा?— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) 20 July 2019
सभी बन्दे नेक हों तो गुनाह कौन करेगा?
ऐ ख़ुदा मेरे दोस्तों को सलामत रखना
वरना मेरी सलामती की दुआ कौन करेगा
और रखना मेरे दुश्मनों को भी महफूज़
वरना मेरी तेरे पास आने की दुआ कौन करेगा...!!!
Mirza Ghalib’s 220th birthday. So many great lines....
Except it wasn't Ghalib's birthday. Lyricist Javed Akhtar, a well-known Urdu writer and poet himself, was quick to catch Tharoor’s gaffe.
Realising the embarrassing situation he was in, Tharoor likened his blunder to every clever quotation being attributed to Churchill.
Thanks to @Javedakhtarjadu & other friends, I realise I've been had. The lines are not Ghalib's. Just as every clever quote is attributed to Winston Churchill even if he never said it, so it seems that whenever people like a shayari, they credit Ghalib for it! Apologies.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) 21 July 2019
Tharoor admitted to the mistake, saying he was misinformed.
Ghalib is an all-time favourite, but today is not his birthday. I was misinformed. Relish the lines anyway!— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) 20 July 2019
Javed Akhtar came to his rescue and suggested that someone was trying to sabotage his literary credibility.
Shashi ji, who ever has given you these lines should never be trusted again. It is obvious that some one had planted these lines in your repertoire to sabotage you literary credibility .— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) 20 July 2019
The Twitterati joined Tharoor and quoted the wrong lines to the poet Ghalib, whose birthday actually falls on 27 December. Akhtar, however, urged them to stop misquoting Ghalib.
Zaid saheb please have some mercy on poor Ghalib and leave him alone .— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) 20 July 2019
This too is not Ghalib .— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) 20 July 2019
Others found the chance to mock the Congress leader for his mistakes, saying such mistake weren’t expected from him.
Don’t worry @ShashiTharoor Saheb, it is not your fault. These days politicians are in competition in Birthday wishes. You see more birthday greeting tweets than anything else.— Mohanan Nair (@MohanMNair) 20 July 2019
Shashi Tharoor ji,— Indo Islamic Culture (@IndoIslamicPage) 21 July 2019
Being a learned man ,this was not expected from You .
The lines you shared attributing to Mirza Ghalib are NOT written by him.
Kindly delete the tweet and try to read Ghalib from authentic sources.
Your reputation is going for a toss with posts like this !
Known for his impeccable English diction that often sounds French to even the litterati, Tharoor once amazed people by introducing his new book on the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as "more than just a 400-page exercise in floccinaucinihilipilification."
According to the Cambridge Dictionary, floccinaucinihilipilification means the act of considering something to be not at all important or useful, and is the longest non-technical word in the dictionary!