Cong polls: Tharoor springs surprise as 15 Kerala party leaders back him

Will Thiruvananthapuram Congress Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor, known for his proficiency in English language, emerge as a “dark horse” or seen as a “black sheep” after the dust on the Congress presidential polls settles.

Preliminary indications are that he has already sprang a huge surprise with 15 top Congress supporting his candidature to the top party post.

Tharoor, who completed a hat trick of wins from the prestigious Lok Sabha seat here has never been the darling of the Congress leaders ever, especially in the state capital, as his impressive track record, outside of the political arena, has unnevered several, say critics.

Hence, his decision of contesting for the party president’s post was greeted with scorn by many Congress leaders here. The normally silent veteran 81-year-old former Defence Minister A.K.Antony said Tharoor never said anything to him about his candidature.

Contrary to the general perception that he will find it hard to get anyone to sign his nomination papers, he found supporters in 15 of his leaders.

Tharoor sprang a huge surprise and reportedly his supporters are from all sections of the faction-ridden party in Kerala, including seasoned veterans and Youth Congress leaders.

On Monday, Tharoor made an emergency visit to Palakkad and briefly met Rahul Gandhi, who is leading the Bharat Jodo yatra. It was during his visit he managed to swell his support base.

Incidentally, from Kerala 328 Congress leaders are in the list of voters.

With Antony expressing his displeasure and AICC general secretary (Organisation) K.C.Venugopal also not having any regards for Tharoor, the general impression was he will bite the dust and end up in an embarrassing position, but with 15 frontline leaders signing, things appear to have turned in his favour.

A media critic on condition of anonymity said this is perhaps the first time in several years there has been a challenge to the diktats of the Gandhi family.

“None should forget it was none other than Antony who led a faction out from the Congress party after differences of opinion surfaced with Indira Gandhi in the late seventies and joined hands with the CPI-M here. Now the same Antony is opposing someone who showed the guts to announce his candidature and this is politics,” said the critic.

Friday is the last day for filing of nominations and all eyes are on Tharoor, who has managed to cross a major hurdle, much against the wishes of Antony and Venugopal.

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