Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, MP, appears to find at least a few oases of support within and outside his party.
Mr. Tharoor, who has been at pains to point out that his controversial Malabar tour was not a factional move, could perhaps draw some relief that the “staunchly pro-Oomen Chandy” Youth Congress leadership in Kottayam has invited him to be the main speaker at a high-profile political event.
It was unknown whether Mr. Chandy had sanctioned the invite. Some media outlets made much of the fact that Opposition Leader V.D. Satheesan’s picture was strikingly absent from the occasion’s publicity banners.
It gave room for speculation that Mr. Tharoor and Mr. Satheeshan were in competition for dominance in the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) and eyed each other warily. Both camps have denied the postulation.
Perhaps, the strongest leg-up for Mr Tharoor, as he fended off criticism from within his party for his “nonconformist political sally into Malabar”, came from an unlikely but powerful quarter.
Nair Service Society (NSS) general secretary G. Sukumaran Nair invited Mr Tharoor to speak at the Mannam Jayanthi Celebrations at the organisation’s headquarters in Perunna.
The NSS invite to Mr. Tharoor was widely interpreted as a rebuke for Mr. Satheesan. The opposition leader’s remark that he was not a construct of any social organisation had irked Mr Nair. The NSS general secretary accused Mr. Satheesan of disavowing the Nair community.
Mr. Tharoor also seemed to get the endorsement of former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Muraleedharan, MP.
Mr. Muraleedharan said people who “underestimate” Mr. Tharoor should draw lessons from Argentina’s humiliating defeat to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, one of the greatest upsets in FIFA World Cup history. “Better they take a cue from Argentine captain Lionel Messi’s predicament,” he said.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Tariq Anwar said Mr. Tharoor’s Malabar sojourn was not anti-Congress. However, former KPCC president Mullapally Ramachandran and senior leader Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan warned against rising factionalism and the need for the rank and file to work within the KPCC’s remit.