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Will Shashi Tharoor meet the same FATE as Jitendra Prasada?

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 20, Sep 2022, 17:25 pm IST | UPDATED: 22, Sep 2022, 14:58 pm IST

Will Shashi Tharoor meet the same FATE as Jitendra Prasada?

New Delhi: Kerala Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s decision to contest the Congress presidential poll has not gone down well with the party leaders in Kerala with a senior leader terming it a “personal decision of the Thiruvananthapuram MP” and another one making it clear that the state unit would vote only for those who recognise the prominence of the Nehru family.

Kodikunnil Suresh and K Muraleedharan, two Lok Sabha colleagues of Tharoor from the state, indirectly made their displeasure over the reported move on the sidelines of the Bharat Jodo Yatra here. Both MPs also made it clear that the state unit wanted Rahul Gandhi to take up the top party post. "If he is not willing to take up the position, a person acceptable to the AICC and the majority of leaders and workers should come to that post. That is the wish of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee and all of us," Suresh told reporters here.

A seven-time member of the Lok Sabha, Suresh said as far as Tharoor's candidature was concerned, the decision to contest was taken by himself and it was yet to be clear whether he had made any deliberations at the party level in this regard. So, Tharoor's contest in the party president poll is not viewed as a "serious contest", he said.

As far as the party is concerned, the precedent was to choose a person who is acceptable to the majority of party leaders and workers, Suresh, also a former union minister, said. The poll to the top post was intended for that and if there is any election, the person who gathers the most votes would be the president. "So, I think, Tharoor's contest will not create any crisis in the party," Suresh, who represents Mavelikara constituency in the Lok Sabha, added.

Meanwhile, senior party leader and Vadakara MP, Muraleedharan said the state party would vote only for those who recognise the prominence of the Nehru family.

Expressing his desire for Rahul Gandhi to take up the party chief post, he said the Nehru scion's unwillingness to accept the top position was a cause of worry for everyone. "There is no dispute among anyone that Rahul Gandhi should come and take up the post. But, it is up to him whether to accept the post or not," the former KPCC chief said.

After over two decades, the Congress is likely to see a contest for the post of party chief with Shashi Tharoor looking set to enter the fray after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi and Ashok Gehlot being seen as the other contender. Tharoor, who was among the group of 23 leaders who had written to Gandhi in 2020 demanding organisational overhaul, also endorsed a petition on Monday by a group of young party members seeking "constructive reforms".

Sonia Gandhi has, however, conveyed that she would stay "neutral" in the elections, according to sources. It would, however, be interesting to see if a surprise candidate or candidates also throw their hat in the ring. The feedback by Gandhi on Tharoor's desire to contest is being seen by many as an encouragement to him to contest and he could announce his candidature in the next few days.

On the other hand, Rajasthan Chief Minister Gehlot is also being considered a candidate for the top post favoured by the present dispensation, according to some sources. Gehlot, however, denies that he is a candidate and has been saying that he will try and convince Rahul Gandhi to contest. 

The upcoming polls would certainly be "historic" as the new president would replace Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving party president who has been at the helm since 1998, barring the two years between 2017 and 2019 when Rahul Gandhi took over. The party last saw a contest for the post in November 2000. Jitendra Prasada had lost to Sonia Gandhi in 2000 and prior to that Sitaram Kesri had defeated Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot in 1997. 

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