Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday, while continuing his Malabar tour, met senior leaders of UDF-ally IUML at Panakkad here and also said that he fears no one and there is no reason for anyone to fear him.
In response to a query by the media as to who was afraid of his tour in Kerala, Tharoor said, ”I do not fear anyone and there is no need for anyone to be afraid of me.” His remarks assume significance amidst speculation that some of the Congress leadership in Kerala appear to be apprehensive over the increasing support he was enjoying and the emergence of a ‘Tharoor group’ within the party in the state.
Tharoor, however, downplayed his meeting with the IUML leaders at the residence of Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal by saying that it was just a courtesy call on the way to an event in the district.
Other senior Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leaders present there also termed his visit as nothing unusual and said they all go and meet Thangal whenever they pass through the area. The MP from Thiruvananthapuram, also accompanied by his staunch supporter and MP M K Raghavan, also told reporters that he has no intention or interest in creating a group.
”Some are saying it’s (his tour) divisive tactics or groupism. We do not intend to create any group nor are we interested in it. Congress is already full of ‘A’ and ‘I’ groups and there is no need to add any more alphabets like ‘O’ and ‘V’.
”If there has to be an alphabet, it should be ‘U’ for a united Congress which is what we all need. There is nothing unusual about this visit. I fail to see the need to make a big deal out of two UDF MPs meeting an ally’s leaders,” Tharoor said.
He said that at a time when divisive politics was active in the country, there was a need for politics which would bring together everyone and it was praiseworthy that IUML recently held programmes to promote brotherhood in Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
After meeting Tharoor, Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal said that his family has had close relations with the MP ever since he came to Kerala.
”He is invited to all important events, occasions. Therefore, when he was here, he came to meet us,” Thangal said.
On being asked if he wants Tharoor to be active in Kerala politics, he said, ”He (Tharoor) is already active. He is an MP from Kerala. He won twice from here. He is not confined to Thiruvananthapuram. He is a good campaigner.” Tharoor’s Malabar tour appears to have rattled a significant section in Congress in Kerala with a few of them sensing an ”agenda” behind the Thiruvananthapuram MP’s move.
Tharoor’s 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 in the state.
Congress MP K Muraleedharan, former president of the KPCC and son of legendary Congress leader K Karunakaran, also indicated as much when he on Monday said that the restriction on Congress members participating in an event to which Tharoor was invited may have been imposed by some who desire to be the party’s chief minister candidate in Kerala and may have been feeling threatened by Tharoor’s activities in the state.