Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor urged his critics within the party to ‘look at the national picture’ and come up with a strategy to get back to being a ‘winning party’.
This reply by the Congress MP is a result of the backlash that he faced from senior leaders of the Congress party in Kerala, accusing Tharoor of making a “pro Modi” statement on Twitter. The Thiruvananthapuram MP in his tweet had backed fellow Congress leader Jairam Ramesh’s statement that ‘demonising’ PM Modi all the time isn’t going to help and that he should be praised when he does something good.
This did not go down well with the Congress state leaders following which a notice was sent to Tharoor by the KPCC seeking an explanation about his alleged ‘praise’ for the Indian PM.
By stating that he has opposed the “Modi government on every bill they sought to introduce against the spirit of the Constitution,” Tharoor in his reply to the KPCC chief asked whether they can point out one leader from the state who has made the kind of effort that he has made in doing so.
Tharoor, in response to his tweet, for which the Congressmen of the state have accused him of praising Modi, said: “As you know, I have argued for six years now that @narendramodi should be praised when he says or does the right thing, which would add credibility to our criticisms when he errs.”
“I am astonished to hear that you believe that I have sought to “prove Prime Minister Modi.” I would be grateful if you could point to the precise statement I have made that does that, because I have done no such thing,” Tharoor said in his letter.
Explaining his tweet, Tharoor said that it wasn’t a praise for Modi, instead it was an “argument for the Congress” to enhance their credibility among the voters that they have lost to the BJP and win them back.
“It is an argument for the Congress, for whom Jairam, Singhvi and I are all strong voices, to enhance its credibility with fair-minded voters who abandoned us for the BJP but can be won back again. Modi has done little worth praising. But he has been effective in raising his vote percentage across India from 31% in 2014 to 37% in 2019, and as a party which stayed at around 19% in both elections, we in the Congress need to make an effort to understand why. Clearly enough, voters thought he was delivering something for them — we need to acknowledge that, but point out its limitations: yes, he built toilets, but 60% of them don’t have running water; yes, he gave poor rural women gas cylinders, but 92% of them can’t afford refills. But if we act as if he has done nothing, however flawed, and people still voted for him, then we are saying that people are stupid, which is not a place that wins you votes,” Tharoor wrote.
By stating that he has been a strong critic of the Modi government, Tharoor added that his staunch defence of “inclusive values and constitutional principals” have won him three elections.
“I am second to none in working for the party’s values in Parliament,” said the Congress MP and urged his fellow party men to respect his approach even when they don’t agree with him.
“I am proud of my record for several years, in and out of Parliament, in standing up and speaking out in defence of the progressive, secular and inclusive principles and values of the Congress Party; and in identifying, analysing and skewering the ruling party’s assaults on the idea of India and the nature of our Constitution. I am more than slightly mystified to be seen by some of my party men as some sort of BJP-inclined Modi sympathiser and to be asked for an “explanation” for “praising” someone I have not praised,” Tharoor concluded.