Sabarimala wave, groupism go against Tharoor.
Thiruvananthapuram: With defeat looming large on flamboyant Congress leader Shashi Tharoor from the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat, senior party leaders have started abandoning him.
Few days ago, a miffed Tharoor, who is seeking re-election Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency, dashed off a detailed letter to AICC general secretary Mukul Wasnik, naming the local committees which have not been cooperating with him during the campaign.
Subsequent to this, the AICC has rushed Congress party’s Nagpur constituency candidate and All India Kisan Congress chairman Nana Patole as an observer in Thiruvananthapuram. Patole will station himself in Thiruvananthapuram till the completion of the polls and will oversee the election campaigning here.
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 had fielded him in Nagpur constituency against sitting MP Nitin Gadkari in the present election.
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. Some local Congress are also secretly hoping for Tharoor’s defeat because if he manages to win for the third consecutive time many Congress leaders who have been eyeing the constituency can as well give up their hopes. Moreover, he was parachuted to Thiruvananthapuram by the party highcommand in 2009 and this has not gone 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 permanent in Thiruvananthapuram”.
Supporters and loyal cadres of upcoming and ambitious Congress leaders are reportedly working against Tharoor this time.
The situation has alarmed Tharoor who has now set up his own squads for campaigning. Tharoor’s well-wishers and professionals who volunteered themselves have become the part of these squads.
Not just the Congress leaders, the Nair Service Society too has been lukewarm to Tharoor’s overtures. 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 for the seat.
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 Wayanad under the pretext to work for Rahul Gandhi who is a candidate there.
The disharmony has once again brought to the fore the groupism 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.