Congress’ recent event on the historical Vaikom Satyagraha in Kerala has created controversy over veteran party leader K Muraleedharan being denied an opportunity to speak at the conference, an incident which MP Shashi Tharoor termed as “insulting a senior figure”, on Saturday, 1 April.
Tharoor said that if the party has to progress properly, then its senior leaders should not be treated in this fashion.
Why Tharoor stood up for Muraleedharan
“He (Muraleedharan) is a senior leader. He is a former KPCC chief. He has played a significant role in the party. Insulting such a senior figure is not right,” the Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram said.
His remarks come in the wake of Muraleedharan, son of late Congress leader and former chief minister K Karunakaran, indicating his disappointment over not being given an opportunity to speak at the event held on Thursday.
The development assumes significance as Muraleedharan had thrown his weight behind Tharoor when the Thiruvananthapuram MP’s Malabar tour had unnerved a section of senior party leaders in the state.
The latest controversy could lead to a resurgence of the behind-the-scenes rumblings in the party that occurred during Tharoor’s Malabar tour.
Deliberately sidelined: Muraleedharan
Muraleedharan told reporters on Friday that he was “deliberately sidelined” as two other former KPCC chiefs — Ramesh Chennithala and MM Hassan — were given the opportunity to speak, but he was not.
“There were three former KPCC chiefs on stage. Two — Hassan and Chennithala — spoke and that too extensively. The third — myself — was not given an opportunity. It is obvious they ignored me. I was deliberately sidelined,” he said.
Vaikom Satyagraha has been the most prominent non-violent agitation in Indian history. The movement carried within it a compelling message: it enthused people across India, hailing from different castes and religions, to open temple gates for everyone. #VaikomSatyagrahaCentenary pic.twitter.com/KyxhR5xbxx
— Congress Kerala (@INCKerala) March 30, 2023
The Congress leader also said that he has informed AICC general secretary KC Venugopal and KPCC chief K Sudhakaran that if his services were no longer required by the party, “they can let me know”.
Chennithala, on the other hand, said that there was no need to create an issue over it as the opportunity to speak may have been denied as Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge had to return quickly.
‘All former KPCC chiefs should get to speak’
On Saturday, Tharoor told reporters that it was “an avoidable controversy” as the event could have started a bit earlier if there were time constraints.
The MP, however, said he had no complaints over not being given an opportunity to speak at the event. Tharoor said that he had an opportunity to speak on the subject of Vaikom Satyagraha at Guruvayur a couple of days before the main event and therefore, “I have no complaints”.
“This is going to be a year-long celebration and I believe there will be other opportunities to speak. So, all our former KPCC chiefs should be given a chance to speak at the coming events. That is my request. Otherwise, it is not right. I believe it was a mistake which should be rectified,” Tharoor said.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and his Tamil Nadu counterpart MK Stalin inaugurated the centenary celebrations of Vaikom Satyagraha on Saturday.
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