When Mr. Hibi Eden, the honorable Member of Parliament of Ernakulam proclaimed his support for Mr. Shashi Tharoor in his Facebook account, the number of likes reached a whooping 92k mark and the comment section flooded with 7.2k responses. It has to be underscored that the average number of likes for his posts touches hardly at the 3k mark.
When the buzz regarding the Congress presidential elections started gaining momentum, it was Mr. Tharoor who announced his candidature first. Perhaps, there are doubts and questions regarding his ability to mobilize and rejuvenate the institution in a diverse country like India. However, when the opposite candidate was announced, I was left with this question, “If not Tharoor, who else can?”
Mr. Tharoor might not be the best in the business. But given the scenario of failing ideologies and dismantled establishments of Indian National Congress, he is probably the man who could get things to fall in place. He was right on track with a manifesto that sparkles with sharp intent and insightful vision. The press conferences and interviews he held were a treat to watch. Of course, he must not be that astute person who meets the definitions of an ‘ideal politician or let’s say a ‘congress-person’. However, he has that intent which the congress as a collective has been lacking since 2014. Besides, he is that “brand” in the whole country that might have come across our lives in various contexts. In tandem, the name Shashi Tharoor is known to the masses: probably an invaluable quality for a leader.
When it comes to his social outreach and the popularity he possesses in India and abroad, I don’t think any of his contemporaries are anywhere near to him. Whether it be electrifying the audience in a public talk or giving an effortless press conference, Tharoor has already set the standards high. Besides, his solid command over 5 languages makes him a pan Indian politician who could interact with the diverse masses in a more convincing manner, probably the first of this kind. Let’s also think about and embrace the fact that tackling the BJP juggernaut calls for a need to mobilize the regional parties throughout the country so as to strengthen the opposition. This is one of the major areas where the Congress leaders have recurrently failed. And as a person who has proved his mettle as a shrewd and perspicacious diplomat, Tharoor could be the go-to-man for the Congress.
“I know enough Malayalam to understand what you tell me. And I know better English and Hindi than my critics to raise those issues in parliament.”
Mr. Tharoor made this remark to the voters of Thiruvananthapuram and this continues to hold as a statement that hits the winning pitch. Holding his fortress for 3 times in a place like Thiruvananthapuram is not at all easy for someone from Congress. He overshadows the political and biased interests of people by his alluring charisma and he does that with a galvanic perfection. Besides, the voting share of General Election 2019 implies that Mr. Shashi Tharoor holds a clear majority in 6 out of 7 legislative constituencies (except Nemam) in Thiruvananthapuram. Despite the political turmoils that happen around, Shashi Tharoor has been phenomenal in bringing together the rural spaces of the district, namely Parassala, Neyyattinkara and Kovalam since 2009.
Tharoor’s ability to redefine and reinvent the prescribed establishments has always amused me. Besides leaning blindly into an ideology or let’s say, a perspective, there is always a Tharoorian way of spacing things. His take on Hindutva, which is well explained in ‘Why I am a Hindu’, is perhaps a fine example to state. This quality of Tharoor I guess is the need of the hour for Congress. There has to be perfectly balanced intervention within the ideological and structural pedestals within the Congress to ensure that it rediscovers the motion to tick the right boxes.
What if it was not Tharoor against Kharge? It has been a very long time since Congress became the center of attraction in Indian politics. If it was not for Mr. Tharoor, this election would have been an affair that attracts minimum attention. The arrival of Mr. Tharoor in the scenario was successful in convincing a larger audience that Congress is a party that holds democracy at its heart. Besides, it also made some of them ponder over the fact that an election within the party is still a dream for the other mainstream political parties of the country. Thus, making his entry into the contest, Shashi Tharoor has already won the battle.
Doubting the ability of Mr. Tharoor to revive the fortunes of Indian National Congress is pointless. Hardly ever has the BJP been able to resist the sharp and pointed criticism that Tharoor unleashed at the party in general and the Prime Minister in particular. ‘The Paradoxical Prime Minister’ by Tharoor has all the elements of a proper critique instilled in it. Demonetization and GST were criticized ruthlessly and he also defined the underpinnings of ‘modi’fication and the politics of hate. It is said that the BJP, when it came to the reign, has put forward the offer of delegating him as the Minister of External affairs of the state. His ostensible refusal has made him one of the biggest enemies of the BJP government.
There were instances when Mr. Tharoor has been unhesitant in criticizing the PrimeMinister. Besides, he even lauded Mr. Modi at times, which still fuels the apprehensions of many Congress leaders. However, underestimating the ability of a sheer diplomat, which of course Tharoor is, would do no good. Remember that this is the same Tharoor who cuts down the BJP in the parliament by giving out a lecture, with the composure and compactness of a shrewd historian, on ‘Savarkar as the first advocate of partition.’
Going back to the facebook post; the 92k likes would hardly reflect the opinions of mainstream Congress leaders. But it doesn’t require much perplexity to understand that this is what the people call for or let’s say, they demand for. The heartwarming receptions that Mr. Tharoor receives during his campaigns testify the same. The quality of the person should not be undermined to fortify the biased interests of a few. By doing so, the Congress is missing out a golden opportunity to recoup their glory.
Let me make this clear, ‘Dear Congress, he is your man’.