Several prominent leaders of the Congress in Kerala have come out in support of MP Shashi Tharoor—under attack from his senior colleagues in the state for being a part of the “group of 23”—indicating that a notable section of the state unit supports the call for major organisational changes made by him and 22 others.
Among those targeting Tharoor were state Congress unit president Mullappally Ramachandran and working president and chief whip in the Lok Sabha Kodikkunnil Suresh. While Ramachandran called the statement on the AICC leadership unfounded and totally wrong, Suresh dubbed Tharoor a “guest artiste”.
“Tharoor may be a global citizen, but he should not think that he can take any decision or say anything. He should follow the party policies,” Suresh had said on Friday. With the comments triggering criticism, he expressed regret a day later.
“I didn’t intend to cause any personal hurt to Tharoor nor debilitate him. At the same time, I express my disagreement over the letter to the party high command,’’ he said on Saturday.
Denouncing Suresh’s statement, party legislator and state unit vice-president V D Satheesan said that Tharoor was not the party’s enemy. “He is a Congress leader known at the international level. He is our beloved MP who had thrice bundled off fascist forces from the state capital. Our enemies are CPI (M) and BJP,” said Satheesan.
Support also came from legislator P T Thomas, who said that the move to “weaken” Tharoor is “unfortunate”. “A global citizen such Tharoor should be evaluated based on his dignity,” he said.
Congress-led UDF Convener and MP Benny Behanan and MLA K S Sabarithanan also threw their weight behind Tharoor. Satheesan and Thomas have been known to advocate a generational shift in Congress politics to make the party more appealing to the youth.
The support for Tharoor may be seen as an indication that multiple leaders shared the sentiments reflected by him on the party leadership issue.
“I have no doubt that Tharoor is an asset for the polyphony of democracy and broad-mindedness of Congress. It was through Tharoor that Indian society, particularly the youth, have understood about several vital issues confronting the country,” said Sabarinathan.
The attack on Tharoor also came after he differed with the party’s stand on the leasing out of Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises. While the entire state Congress unit joined hands with the ruling CPI(M) to protest the Centre’s move, Tharoor favoured the decision as it would “develop the airport”.
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