NEW DELHI: Congress Thiruvananthapuram Member of Parliament from Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, is increasingly attending multiple programmes and events in the state. A section of party leaders, who were earlier sceptical about Tharoor’s politicking, have apparently narrowed their leadership choice on Tharoor and further want him to continue gathering support for the grand old party from different communities.
Moreover, there has also been a shift in the endorsement of the Nair community in Kerala. Tharoor was invited to the 146th Mannam Jayanti, which is held to celebrate the birth anniversary of the founder of the Nair Service Society (NSS), Mannath Padmanabhan, at the organisation’s headquarters in Changanassery in Kottayam. Tharoor’s invitation to the event holds importance. A.K. Antony had attended the Mannam Jayanthi celebrations 10 years ago. After that, this is the first time the NSS is inviting a Congress leader to the meet. Nairs have tried to be politically neutral for a while. Moreover, the Nair community is the second strongest Hindu sub-caste community in the state. While the Hindu population is 55%, Ezhava is the largest Hindu sub community standing at 20%, followed by Nairs at around 12%. A political analyst said, “Their support of Tharoor could back his ambitions and encourage him throughout.”
A party insider said, “This decision of NSS will have a huge impact, and ground leaders from the organisation have started to extend their support to Tharoor. They have remained silent for the last two three months though. Moreover, Oommen Chandy is also recovering and his health is becoming better. He is also seen supporting Tharoor from the back channels; we may see a completely different game in the near future.” Asked whether this development could make Tharoor a new power-centre in the state, a senior Congress leader said, “Exactly; there is a possibility that Tharoor will become a power centre in the state, because this is for the first time this community is taking a full stand on backing Tharoor.” According to sources privy to developments, it appears that leaders from several camps within the Kerala Congress are covertly supporting Tharoor. The leaders believe that Tharoor’s popularity could bring brighter days for the grand old party in the state. Subsequently, it is also presumed that other ambitious leaders may have already gone into the back foot as their clout within the party is decreasing.
A senior Congress leader said, “If Tharoor continues to row his political boat with an aim towards winning the next Assembly elections, he could be the centre point of power here.” Tharoor is a Nair, as are leaders who have been annoyed yet silent at his rise, including AICC general secretary K.C. Venugopal, Kerala Leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan, and former Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.