Reacting to criticism for praising the prime minister, Congress Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor said it irritates him a lot and he was only suggesting that the party should figure out why people voted Narendra Modi back to power in 2019.
The Congress leader has been facing flak from within his party, especially with the state unit asking him to clarify his remarks in support of his colleague Jairam Ramesh who asked the Congress to stop demonising Modi.
“Give me an example, which statements I have supported. The problem is media reports are completely unfounded. Frankly, it irritates me greatly whenever media talks about ‘Tharoor’s praise for Modi’,” Tharoor told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by NSUI at Delhi University.
A few days ago Tharoor had remarked, “As you know, I have argued for six years now that Narendra Modi should be praised whenever he says or does the right thing, which would add credibility to our criticisms whenever he errs. I welcome others in opposition coming around to a view for which I was excoriated at the time.”
Tharoor, at the University event again challenged his critics to give an example of his praise to Modi. “What I have said is that our principle should be that we should understand why people voted for Mr Modi. We as an opposition party got 19 per cent votes in 2014 and 19 per cent in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. BJP under Mr Modi got 31 per cent in 2014 and 37 per cent in 2019. Many of these people who used to vote for us in the past went to the BJP,” he said, adding that Congress needs to win back people who left the party to vote for the BJP in 2019.
“See, we do not know why they left us and how to win them back. So, I said let us try and figure it out, I am not praising Mr Modi, I am saying let us understand why he attracted these votes,” Tharoor argued.
Citing that probably it was Modi government’s schemes for construction of toilets and Ujjwala Yojana for cooking gas connections to poor households in the country which contributed to the party’s victory, he said Congress needs to point out “mistakes and failings” in these schemes.
“If it’s toilets, then let us understand that 65 per cent of these toilets do not have running water, if it is gas cylinders let us acknowledge that it was good thing to do but 92 per cent of the beneficiaries have not been able to afford refills,” he said.
Commenting on yet another of Modi’s campaigns— Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Tharoor said it was a good idea but it “unfortunately” was reduced to “photo-ops”. “Bharat Swachh nahin hai abhi tak, sirf bolne se nahin hota (India is not clean so far, only talking won’t do (it),” he said.
-with PTI inputs