Shashi Tharoor left by local leaders to fend for himself

Shashi Tharoor left by local leaders to fend for himself

Thiruvananthapuram: With the flamboyant Congress leader Shashi Tharoor facing a possible defeat in Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat, senior party leaders have started abandoning him. A few days ago, an exasperated Tharoor, who is seeking re-election, dashed off a detailed letter to AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, listing the local committees which have not been cooperating with him during the campaign. Subsequently, the AICC rushed Congress party’s Nagpur constituency candidate and All India Kisan Congress chairman Nana Patole as an observer to Thiruvananthapuram. Patole will station himself in the city till the completion of polls and will oversee the election campaigning.

Patole is a former BJP MP from Bhandara-Gondiya constituency in Maharashtra and had then defeated senior Congress leader Praful Patel. He later became a critic of Narendra Modi and joined the Congress in 2017. The party has fielded him in Nagpur against sitting MP Nitin Gadkari. Patole will have his hands full as over 20 local committees in the constituency have not been actively participating in Tharoor’s campaigning. Tharoor, in fact, named a local and influential committee president who did not even respond to his call despite trying him 16 times on mobile. With a series of poll surveys showing Tharoor on a sticky wicket, Congress leaders have started keeping away from campaigning. There is another angle, too. He was parachuted to Thiruvananthapuram

by the party high command in 2009 and this never went down well with local leaders who wanted the seat for themselves. As one source said: “We do not want Tharoor, a visiting MP with interests in Delhi, to become a permanent feature in Thiruvananthapuram”. The situation has alarmed Tharoor who has now set up his own dedicated squads for campaigning. Mostly, well-wishers and professionals are members of these squads. Not just the Congress leaders, the Nair Service Society too has been lukewarm to Tharoor. His flip-flop on the Sabarimala temple controversy has dented his traditional Nair community vote bank.

He had met NSS general secretary G Sukumaran Nair, but a majority of NSS ”Karayogams” (units) under taluk unions have already taken a pro-BJP stand. The two-time Congress MP is facing BJP leader and former Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekheran and senior CPI legislator and former State Minister C.Divakaran. But Tharoor is not alone. V K Sreekandan (Palakkad) and M K Raghavan (Kozhikode) too have complained that local Congress leaders are openly working to a BJP win as the Sabarimala issue is gaining traction.

Moreover, most Congress leaders have gone to Wayanad on the pretext for working for Rahul Gandhi who is a candidate there. The disharmony has once again brought to the fore the factionalism in the Congress party – something that was expected to be capped with Rahul Gandhi contesting from Wayanad. An upset and angry KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran has issued a series of warnings, but he has no weight in the party. He has warned district leaders that they were under high command’s close watch. But that is like telling a child reluctant to eat his food that a policeman is coming.


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