A fresh invite, a fresh row: Shashi’s Tharoor’s tour de ‘force’ in Kerala continues

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor is in no mood to give in as fracas continues over his four-day-long north Kerala political tour. A day after senior Congress legislator and the Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly, V D Satheesan, warned against “parallel political activity”, Tharoor on Wednesday dared rivals to reveal the “factionalism” he was allegedly involved in.

Adding heat to the tension, the Youth Congress announced a convention against “communal fascism’’ in Kottayam district on December 3 to be addressed by Tharoor. The Kottayam District Congress Committee Wednesday slammed this, saying the party was not taken into confidence. Kottayam is the home town of former chief minister and party veteran Oommen Chandy and the Youth Congress district leadership is believed to be close to Chandy.

Kottayam district Congress president Nattakam Suresh said: “As per organisational practice, they [the Kottayam Youth Congress] should have consulted us… This is not proper organisational conduct.”

On Wednesday, the fourth day of his north Kerala outreach programme, Tharoor said: “I am not part of any group in the party. What is wrong with me attending events? I don’t know what factional activity I am involved in. They should reveal it. Who is worried when I state things that any Congress worker is supposed to say or think about? This is really irritating. I’m not afraid of anyone, and I’ll go anywhere.”

Standing with Tharoor, former Congress state president K Muraleedharan took strong exception to Satheesan’s veiled attack on the diplomat-turned-politician that he is a ‘media-inflated balloon’. “Tharoor has relevance and role in Congress state politics. Don’t underestimate anyone. There is no factionalism in Tharoor’s activities. In Kozhikode, the party withdrew from giving him a venue to speak against communal fascism, but a pro-party organisation offered the platform. How can speaking against communal fascism get dubbed as factionalism or parallel activity?” asked Muraleedharan, who is currently the MP from Vatakara.

Former Union minister and former party state president Mullappally Ramachandran chipped in, saying: “Factionalism, be it from any side, cannot be tolerated. The present state of things is not good for Congress. Instead of individual-centric politics, there should be efforts to strengthen the party,’’ he said.

On Wednesday, Tharoor was in Kannur, the home town of Congress state president K Sudhakaran. He was given a reception at the district congress committee office in Kannur. In a related event, he also delivered a talk on the challenges of fascism.

Earlier in the day, he met Thalassery Archbishop Joseph Pamplany, the third Catholic bishop he had called on during his four-day north Kerala tour. The Congress legislators from the local Kannur Catholic community, Sajeev Joseph and Sunny Joseph, did not turn up for the event, though Kozhikode MP M K Raghavan was present with the prelate. Raghavan, who is also facing the ire of a section of the party for promoting factionalism, has been with Tharoor like a shadow during the last four days in north Kerala.

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