By P. Sreekumaran
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is at it yet again. The MP from Thiruvananthapuram has, once again, created a flutter with his latest statement that the Congress has become a rudderless ship.
A closer look at Tharoor’s statement is necessary to put things in proper perspective. It is in no way an anti-party statement. Shashi is upset because the Congress is yet to name its president though more than eight weeks have elapsed since Rahul Gandhi decided to step down as AICC president in the wake of the devastating defeat the party suffered in the Lok Sabha elections.
He said the inordinate delay in naming Rahul’s successor is having an adverse impact on the party’s rank and file. He would welcome if Priyanka Gandhi became the AICC president. If she is not willing, then someone else should take over without any further delay, Tharoor demanded.
As expected, Tharoor has found himself at the receiving end with a host of Congress leaders from Kerala taking exception to his remark. Leading the chorus of criticism is none other than Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president, Mullappally Ramachandran, who opined that it is wrong to say that Congress is drifting in a sea of uncertainty. Leader of the Opposition, Ramesh Chennithala also lent his support to Mullappally’s stand.
AICC secretary, PC Vishnunath identified himself with the sentiments expressed by Mullappally. Rahul Gandhi, Vishnunath said, is on record that he would continue to function as the Congress president till a new president is elected. Therefore, to say that the Congress is leaderless is factually wrong.
On the other hand, Tharoor finds himself isolated. Very few leaders have come out in support of him. The only senior leader who backed Tharoor is P. J. Kurien. The pro-Tharoor section says Tharoor was only reflecting the overwhelming sentiment felt by Congress’s rank and file.
Be that as it may, Tharoor’s detractors are of the opinion that his statement could only add to the confusion in the party which is struggling to get its act together. The party, they point out, simply cannot divert the focus from a few pressing problems looming large.
The most serious challenge the Congress has to face is the six assembly by-elections to be held soon. The by-elections have been necessitated b y the victory in the Lok Sabha elections of these MLAs.
No less important is the local bodies poll scheduled to be held next year. When the need of the hour is to put up a united fight, statements of the kind made b y leaders like Tharoor will only create confusion among the party workers and weaken the party.
But then, this is not the first time that Tharoor has borne the brunt of criticism from his own partymen. A host of statements made by him in the past have drawn flak from party leaders. Even during the Lok Sabha election campaign, Tharoor had complained to the High Command that he was not getting the kind of support he should be getting from his party. This is being construed as the extent of Tharoor’s isolation within the party. (IPA Service)