NEW DELHI: Over the past few weeks, Congress leader and Member Parliament for Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor had been embroiled in controversies within the Kerala Congress. Many leaders, in the recently held political affairs committee, had criticized Tharoor-opposers and said the controversy was needless and could have been avoided. Moreover, even the leader of opposition was criticized for his stand against the MP.
The meeting also had KPCC president, K. Sudhakaran, declare that Tharoor can participate in all functions, events and further organise them. “Not only he but all leaders in the party can do the same, but with prior permission of District Congress Committees concerned. The decision had put the controversy to an end,” a senior Congress leader said quoting Sudhakaran.
As Kerala Congress’ group equations are changing, the old “I” and “A” groups are getting dissolved and a new setup within the party is seen emerging. There are some prominent leaders (including PCC chief) from both the previous groups backing Tharoor. The other faction is led by K.C. Venugopal, an AICC general secretary who is seen as a formidable power-centre of Congress because of his close proximity with Rahul Gandhi. He was recently successful in planting his loyalist, V.D. Satheesan, as the leader of the opposition in the state.
The Sunday Guardian asked V.D. Satheesan whether the emergence of Tharoor has expedited the shift in group equations with some prominent leaders from both the sides backing Tharoor. However, he refrained from speaking on the matter. A party insider close to Tharoor said, “I don’t think he is after any position in the Kerala Pradesh Committee, but certainly he has a wish to be the CM.” He further added, “All Congress workers and many leaders in the party want to materialise on such acceptance of Tharoor as vote bank. PCC president also wants Tharoor to be the leader. But he doesn’t want to fallout with the Venogupal faction.”
Kerala Congress vice president, V.T. Balram, said previous group equations have already been changing and people are moving in a new setup, yet there is nothing like regrouping.
A section of party leaders also believe that if the crisis flares up in Kerala akin to Rajasthan or Punjab, where two leaders have fought bitter political battles while being on the same side, and if Venugopal decides to go whole-hog against Tharoor, it may leave no space for Tharoor who could then also leave the party.
A political analyst said, “However, he is also wary about the repercussions of leaving the umbrella of the Congress which could dissolve his cadre which he has in the Congress. But it is unlikely that Venugopal will take any firm measure against him and will opt for a wait and watch approach.”