How can his activities be construed as sectarian? asks Shashi Tharoor

PTI, Nov 23, 2022, 1:47 PM IST

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday sought to know how his attending events and meeting some prominent persons in Kerala, along with MP M K Raghavan, could be construed as sectarian and said he was ”a bit irritated” over the issues being created in the media.

A day after Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan said any kind of sectarianism or parallel activities would not be allowed in the party and warned that such moves would be dealt with ”seriously”, Tharoor questioned how activities of the two Congress MPs could be seen as sectarian.

Speaking to reporters at Kannur after meeting Thalassery Archbishop Mar Joseph Pamplany, Tharoor said he was sad to hear, via media, that some were saying he and Raghavan were indulging in such activities ”You (media) have not come here to fill up a balloon with air I hope. Regarding what you are asking about some people saying that I and Raghavan are indulging in sectarian activities, we are sad to hear that If you look at the various people we met and programmes we attended, what were the sectarian activities? I would like to know that.

”What did we say which was contrary to Congress directions? What mistake did we make? But I am a bit irritated, as there was no need to create issues in the media. I am ready to give the needle if the media wants that.” The balloon remark was apparently in reference to Satheesan’s comments on Tuesday that false news reports could not destroy leaders like him as they were not ”inflated balloons,” who could be punctured with a pin prick.

Though media persons repeatedly asked whether Tharoor was an ”inflated balloon”, he had declined to comment.

The balloon comment of Satheesan has not found favour with Congress MP K Muraleedharan either who said that it was ”not required”.

Raghavan, a staunch supporter of Tharoor, on the other hand said, ”We respect everyone, including the balloon which bursts on being pricked, the needle which pricks it and the hand holding the needle.” Tharoor, while speaking to reporters at Kannur, also hinted at the mass support he enjoys by saying that it was not a problem for him to go anywhere in Kerala and speak as he gets around 40 invites to events every week and questioned why anyone was troubled over two Congress MPs attending events, which were not anti-party.

”It is not possible to attend each of them (invites). This time, Raghavan suggested that we club everything and hold some events in this area of Malabar as it has been long since we came here and I agreed.

”However, I do not understand who is troubled and why if two Congress MPs are speaking at party-related and other events, but not against anyone in the party or its views,” the Thiruvananthapuram MP said, but added that he has no complaints.

He further said that he has no differences with anyone and in his 14 year long political career he has not spoken ill against anybody.

”I never speak ill of anyone, I have no differences with anyone and I do not fear anyone. I would be happy if others are like that with me too,” he said.

Congress MP K Muraleedharan, former president of the KPCC and son of legendary Congress leader Karunakaran, meanwhile, continued to throw his weight behind Tharoor.

Muraleedharan, told reporters at Kozhikode that Tharoor has not spoken against any Congress leader nor was he creating any group within the family.

He said that the Thiruvananthapuram MP has a good presence in Kerala politics and questioning his activities would amount to handing ammunition to those opposing Congress, especially when the Parliamentary elections are due two years down the line.

”If you look at short term benefits, there would be a loss in the long term,” Muraleedharan said.

He also advised against underestimating anyone.

”If you underestimate anyone, you may end up suffering the same plight as Lionel Messi and Argentina, who lost to Saudi Arabia yesterday.” Raghavan, who is accompanying Tharoor on the Malabar tour, said that he has lodged a complaint with Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi seeking an inquiry into why and on whose directions the event at Kozhikode was called off by the district Youth Congress which had organised it and invited Tharoor to the same.

He also said that he and Tharoor were not indulging in any sectarian activity nor were they opposed to anyone.

”That is our politics. We are doing what we are doing to strengthen the Congress. We are not carrying out any anti-party activities,” Raghavan said.

Archbishop Pamplany, after meeting Tharoor, told reporters that it was just a courtesy call and no politics was discussed.

He, however, did say, in response to media queries, that if someone of Tharoor’s calibre is in a leadership position at the Centre or in Kerala, it would only benefit the people.

Tharoor’s Malabar tour seems to have rattled a significant section in Congress in the state with a few of them sensing an ”agenda” behind his move.

His opponents in the party feel that through his programmes he was trying to position himself as an ideal chief ministerial candidate of the Congress-led UDF for the 2026 Assembly polls to end the rule of the CPI(M)-led LDF, which is in power in the state since 2016.

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