Left devoting entire campaign to attacking me, tactic can only help BJP: Shashi Tharoor

He said it is ironical that the Left seeks to divide the anti-BJP vote in the parliamentary seat and preach alliance dharma in Wayanad.


Published Apr 12, 2024 | 3:16 PMUpdatedApr 12, 2024 | 3:16 PM

Tharoor during campaigning. (X)

By Asim Kamal

Accusing the Left of dividing anti-BJP votes in Thiruvananthapuram, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has said the Left claims to be very concerned about opposition unity but fails to address why it is devoting most of its energies in the constituency to undermining him instead of focusing on the “BJP’s misrule”.

Tharoor is locked in a three-way contest with BJP leader and Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar and CPI’s Pannyan Raveendran in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram.

He said it is ironical that the Left seeks to divide the anti-BJP vote in the parliamentary seat and preach alliance dharma in Wayanad, from where Rahul Gandhi is contesting.

In an interview with PTI, the former Union minister said that putting up a candidate against him is something the Left has done every time, and he can’t criticise them for that, since he took the seat from them in the first place in 2009.

Also Read: ‘Quest for dominance of Hindi, Hindutva, Hindustan’: Shashi Tharoor slams BJP

‘It can only help BJP’

“But devoting their entire campaign to attacking me is a tactic which can only help the BJP. The Left claims to be very concerned about opposition unity, but fails to address why, instead of focusing on the BJP’s misrule, which they are supposed to oppose, they are devoting most of their energies to undermining me,” Tharoor said.

“Intentional or otherwise, their campaign has been almost entirely against me, accusing me, for instance, of being anti-Palestine and anti-Muslim, which is utter nonsense. Ironically, they seek to divide the anti-BJP vote here, and preach alliance dharma in Wayanad!” he said, referring to the CPI’s objection to Gandhi’s candidature there.

Tharoor also said he has been seeking a debate with his competitors in the constituency but there seems to be “reluctance” to engage on their part and they have turned down multiple invitations to debate, from a variety of organisations.

“I do not know where their hesitation comes from. I can only speak for myself: my confidence to hold my own in any debate stems from my conviction in the work I have done for my constituents and the stands I have taken on national and global issues,” the Congress Working Committee (CWC) member told PTI.

“Let us debate politics and development. Let us debate price hike, unemployment, corruption, communalism and the BJP’s 10 years of propagating the politics of hatred. Let us also discuss the development of Thiruvananthapuram and the visible progress we have made in the last 15 years,” he said, daring his rivals in polls to debate on these issues.

Also Read: Claim of BJP’s ‘exemplary’ performance is product of its propaganda mill: Tharoor

Dismisses ‘fatigue factor’

Asked how he would beat the ‘fatigue factor’ since he is seeking a record fourth straight term from Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor argued that fatigue settles in when there is stagnancy, and “my terms as MP have seen anything but that”.

“My primary concern has been the well-being of my voters, and I am confident that the people of Thiruvananthapuram will again repose their confidence in me,” he said.

“Those who have seen me in action for 15 years have had multiple reasons to appreciate my services to the constituency, and the stands that I have taken on national issues in Parliament, and on the world stage,” he said.

Tharoor said that as for his achievements for the constituency over the last 15 years, he has released a 68-page report that lays them out in full detail for all to assess.

“If there is ‘fatigue’ in any form, it is with the divisive hatred the BJP has infused into our national political discourse, and that is the only fatigue that the people of Thiruvananthapuram will be voting against in 2024,” Tharoor asserted.

The Congress and the CPI are in alliance at the national level as part of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) but in Kerala they are contesting against each other as part of the rival state blocs – United Democratic Front (UDF) and Left Democratic Front (LDF).

Elected to the seat in 2009, Tharoor had served as the Minister of State for Human Resource Development and Minister of State for External Affairs in Congress-led UPA-1 and UPA-2 governments.

Tharoor had scored a hat-trick in the 2019 general elections with a margin of 99,989 votes over his nearest rival.

Polling for the Lok Sabha polls will be held in Kerala on 26 April and votes will be counted nationwide on 4 June.

(Disclaimer: The headline, subheads, and intro of this report along with the photos may have been reworked by South First. The rest of the content is from a syndicated feed, and has been edited for style.)