Thiruvanthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor files nomination for Congress presidential poll – UKMALAYALEE
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Thiruvanthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor files nomination for Congress presidential poll

Friday 30 September 2022 8:18 PM UTC

NEW DELHI Oct 1: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday filed his nomination for the post of party president and said those wanting change should vote for him, even as he described his electoral competitor Mallikarjun Kharge as a candidate of “continuity” and “status quo”.
Tharoor, 66, also said he is aware of his underdog tag and talk of an ‘official candidate’ in some quarters but he has been told by the Gandhi family repeatedly that they are “neither directly nor indirectly” backing anyone.

Amid sound of drumbeats and fanfare, Tharoor made an entry at the AICC headquarters and submitted his papers to the party’s central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry.

Sources said Tharoor’s nomination papers were signed by MPs Karti Chidambaram, Pradyut Bordoloi, Mohammad Jawaid and former Union minister Saifuddin Soz among others.

Tharoor asserted he has a vision to strengthen the party which should be a vehicle for “change”.

Asked about Kharge’s candidature, Tharoor said, “He has been a terrific leader for many many years, he is the Bhishma Pitamah of our party in some ways. Let us respect him. There is no disrespect in saying that I have my own ideas.”

“There is certainly an option that those who would like to continue the status quo will not be inclined to vote for me because I represent change,” he asserted.

Sashi Tharoor said that “the longer the Congress waits to get its act together, the greater the risk of a steady erosion of our traditional vote bank”. “Which is why I have long been an outspoken advocate for free and transparent elections within the party, including for the post of president,” the forthright former Union minister told PTI.

Mr Tharoor said he believes a fresh leader, who has not been “jaded by being entrenched within the current system for too long”, could energise the party and also appeal to more voters than the Congress managed to during the last few elections.

Those who have followed his career path say two things — he is full of surprises and up for a fight without being deterred by the odds stacked against him.

Born in London in 1956, Mr Tharoor graduated with an honours in history from Delhi’s prestigious St Stephen’s College where he was also the president of the student’s union. He did his masters from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Medford, US, and completed a PhD from there in 1978.

Defying the politician stereotype, he went on to have a distinguished career in the UN. During his stint at the UN, he shouldered several key responsibilities in peace-keeping after the Cold War and serving as senior adviser to the secretary-general, in addition to his role as under-secretary general for Communications and Public Information.

He was chosen as India’s official candidate for the post of UN secretary general, but finished second of seven candidates in the 2006 election, which was won by former South Korean diplomat and politician Ban Ki-moon.

His stomach for a fight against daunting odds was perhaps first displayed in that electoral fight. Three years later, he retired as an international civil servant and made a lateral entry into politics in 2009 to be elected as MP from Thiruvananthapuram for the first time on a Congress ticket.

Though his political journey began at 53, he took giant strides as a politician after winning the Lok Sabha election.

His candidacy was opposed by a section of leaders of the Kerala Congress who viewed him as an outsider. Tharoor, however, won by a comfortable margin over his nearest opponent from the Communist Party of India.

He was appointed Union minister of state for External Affairs in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

Mr Tharoor is a pioneer in using social media as an instrument of political interaction. He was India’s most-followed politician on Twitter till 2013 when he was overtaken by current Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The often-outspoken politician, making headlines for his politics and sometimes also for throwing little-used words that have his Twitter followers reaching for the dictionary, finds himself at the centre of controversy every now and then.

In 2009, for instance, in the early days of his political career, he made a comment about travelling “cattle class” for which he had to apologise.

He was also accused of having a questionable interest in a cricket team from the Kerala city of Kochi while he was a minister. He resigned from the MEA in April 2010.

His personal life saw a tragic turn in January 2014 when his wife Sunanda Pushkar was found dead in a suite of a luxury hotel here. The couple was staying in the hotel as Mr Tharoor’s official bungalow was being renovated at the time.

Mr Tharoor was later charged under sections 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) and 306 (abetment of suicide) of the Indian Penal Code by Delhi Police. A Delhi court discharged him in the case last year.

The year of his wife’s death was also when he won a second Lok Sabha term from Thiruvananthapuram, swimming against the tide of a Modi wave. However, his victory margin came down from a staggering 99,998 votes in 2009 to just over 15,000.

In 2019, he won the seat for a third time, defeating his main rival and BJP-NDA candidate Kummanam Rajashekharan by a margin of 99,989 votes.

In July 2020, Mr Tharoor crossed a milestone by becoming the longest-serving parliamentarian representing the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency. He broke the record of Congress’ A Charles, who represented the constituency for 4,047 days from 1984 to 1991.

An active parliamentarian and amongst the most noted orators in the House, Mr Tharoor has also been chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs and is currently chair of the panel on information and technology and communications. However, it has been reported that the government has decided to take the chairship of the panel from the Congress.

Always known to speak his mind, the ‘G 23′ leader has reiterated time and again that his sole intention of being among the signatories to the letter to Sonia Gandhi was reform of the party. However, he has been treated by many in the party as a sort of a rebel with many Gandhi loyalists attacking him from time to time.

Mr Tharoor has been a prolific writer and authored 23 books, including ‘The Great Indian Novel’, ‘An Era of Darkness’, ‘Why I Am A Hindu’ and ‘The Paradoxical Prime Minister’.

He has also won several awards and bestowed with prestigious honours such as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for the Best Book of the Year in the Eurasian Region for The Great Indian Novel , Spain’s Commander of the Order of Charles III by King of Spain, the Sahitya Akademi Award for his book ‘An Era of Darkness’ as well as France’s Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur.

His hope in the Congress polls is best summed up by the lines of Urdu poet Majrooh Sultanpuri which the MP had tweeted this week: “Main akela hi chala tha janib-e-manzil magar log saath aate gaye aur karvaan banta gaya (I began my journey alone, people joined in and the caravan kept on growing).”

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