Tharoor’s acceptability in Kerala sends cat among pigeons in Congress

When things appeared quiet in the otherwise faction-ridden Congress party in Kerala, the sudden arrival of the dapper Congress’ Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha member, Shashi Tharoor to contest the post of the president of the grand old party, a majority of the top brass in the Kerala unit appears to have been caught on the wrong foot.

The first blow to the present leadership of the Congress-led by State party president K. Sudhakaran and Leader of opposition V.D. Satheesan came when 16 state Congress leaders signed in the nomination form of Tharoor.

What came as a shocker was Lok Sabha members like Hibi Eden and three-termer M.K. Raghavan, former two-time legislator K.S. Sabarinathan and even a veteran like Thampanoor Ravi backed Tharoor.Seasoned veterans like A.K. Antony, Satheesan, Ramesh Chennithala, Kodikunnil Suresh and a huge number of others backed the official candidate, Malikarjuna Kharge.

Though Tharoor lost by a mile, already a household name among the youths and the educated, not to mention women, his stock rose hugely, much to the dismay of the otherwise top-heavy Congress party.

And quick to cash in on his new found ascendancy, Tharoor ruffled the likes of Satheesan and others when he announced his tour plans across the state.

But, amid the hustle and bustle and when the murmurs grew loud, Tharoor got a major boost when two-time former Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, presently not in the best of health, extended an olive branch and this appears to have cause further hiccups in the anti-Tharoor camp.

During the weekend, Tharoor got a rousing welcome when he arrived at the bastion of Chandy at Kottayam and Pathanamthitta.

While those aligned to Satheesan and Chennithala kept away, Chandy’s men came in good numbers and the significant aspect was the presence of the youths.

A media critic on condition of anonymity said the biggest bane of the Congress party is they have not got practically any support from the 18 to 23 age group, mostly first-time voters in every election.

“Just see the large number of youths attending Tharoor’s meeting in north Kerala and during the weekend at Kottayam and Pathanamthitta. Would leaders like Antony or others now ever be able to attract this segment to their meetings. The writing on the wall is clear that after the falling health of Chandy, the Congress has now just one crowd puller and that’s Tharoor and none else. The sooner the present Congress leadership realises it, the better it is. If not, it could well be curtains for the grand old party in Kerala too,” said the critic, who did not wish to be identified.

Incidentally the biggest shocker came in the April 2021 Assembly polls, when the Chennithala-led Congress party expected to cruise to victory at the Assembly polls. But, when votes were counted, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led Left wrote into history books by becoming the first CPI(M) government to retain power.

Following the debacle, after the intervention of the party high command, a new leadership took over under Sudhakaran and Satheesan. With Tharoor now making waves, for all practical purposes the hopes of at least half a dozen chief ministerial hopefuls have fallen flat and it is that which has set the cat among the pigeons in the party, here.




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