The Congress high command has proposed the name of Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor for Nemom Assembly seat, the lone constituency held by the BJP in Kerala. But the state leaders have not responded positively to the proposal yet.
Though the names of former chief minister Oommen Chandy and opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala have also been floated for the seat, Rahul Gandhi is of the view that if someone like Tharoor, who has a national stature, is able to capture Nemom from the BJP, it will send out a strong message across the country.
“Rahul is aiming for two things: Bringing Tharoor into state politics will put an end to the decade-long ‘A’ and ‘I’ group politics within the Congress party in the state. It will also help in bringing the Kerala unit directly under his grip,” a leader close to Rahul told THE WEEK.
But the leaders from Kerala, who do not share a good equation with Tharoor, are known to have dithered at this proposal. They are of the opinion that somebody with deeper roots in Kerala politics would be better for the job. “Actually, Kerala leaders, in particular Ramesh Chennithala, are wary of the entry of another force into their realm. They realise that power equations will change with Tharoor’s entry,” said Rahul’s aide.
But they also should understand that this election is a matter of survival for the party in Kerala with BJP breathing down its neck, the aide argued. “We need to win this election at all costs and Tharoor is the best face for that,” said this leader.
According to him, A.K. Antony and KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran are totally in favour of the idea of Tharoor contesting.
Tharoor, on his part, was reluctant initially to the idea, it is learnt. But the “immense possibilities” that a victory in Nemom would bring to the table has made him open to the idea, said the source. Also the fact that the state unit—which has never supported him, but actively did so during the Lok Sabha elections—needs him now to win Nemom has also worked as an ego booster for him.
Rahul is of the view that Tharoor’s entry into Kerala politics in an active role would change the existing power equations and would work wonders to the sagging morale of the party in the state. “Projecting Tharoor as a major face will help the party in attracting the youth and apolitical votes into the party kitty, which otherwise would go to new formations like 20 20,” said the Rahul aide.
Tharoor had earned the displeasure of the Congress high command by becoming one of the signatories of the ‘G-23′ rebels’ letter in the Congress party. But he had backtracked after the initial foray.
A state leader, who is in the know, told THE WEEK that the surprise entry of Tharoor will turn the tables in favour of the Congress just like the “surprise entry” of Rahul Gandhi, who contested from Wayanad in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “RG’s entry changed the fortunes of the UDF in 2019. The same can happen with Tharoor’s surprise entry too,” he said.
“Hope Oommen Chandy, Ramesh Chennithala and K.C. Venugopal agree to it. It would work wonders for the party,” he said.
A final decision regarding the proposal is expected on Friday.