Congress, Leave Shashi Tharoor Alone

Published: October 06, 2014 23:20 IST
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(Nalin S Kohli is spokesperson for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Director of the party's Public Policy Research Centre. He is also a lawyer and has extensive experience in media and education.)

Dr Shashi Tharoor's graciousness is under virulent political attack, not from any opposition member, but from within his own party! Dr Tharoor's only fault is his declaration of feeling honoured on being invited by the Prime Minister of India to become a part of the Swachh Bharat or the Clean India movement.

Leading the attack is Mani Shankar Aiyar from the Congress who declares that "although Shashi Tharoor felt honoured to be invited by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, I am honoured not to be invited"! Of course, as always, Mr Aiyar followed this up with his version of why the campaign was destined to fail.

It was equally fascinating to note that Dr Tharoor's participation in cleaning the country helped bridge the distance between two perpetually-at-war factions within the Kerala state unit of the Congress party! The party's Vice-President M M Hassan was even more direct when he was quoted in the media saying "Tharoor should stop praising Modi. The party state unit would not hesitate to contemplate disciplinary action against Tharoor. The party has strong reservations against Tharoor's stand." Mr Hassan, according to media reports, is considered close to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy. Media reports also stated that Dr Tharoor was attacked by a loyalist of the rival Ramesh Chennithala group for becoming a part of the "communal agenda of Modi".

Dr Tharoor, through a Facebook post, was forced to clarify his stand and commitment to the party ideology. "I am astonished" he said, "that anyone would suggest that I am pro-BJP. I have a 30-year paper trail of published writings on my idea of India and my profound belief in India's pluralism. Being receptive to specific statements or actions of BJP leaders does not remotely imply acceptance of the party's core Hindutva agenda.

The PM pitched his appeal as a non-political one and I received it in that spirit. I am a proud Congressman and a proud Indian. In short: not pro-BJP, just pro-India," he added.

In the meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaffirmed a non-partisan approach towards Swachh Bharat. At a rally in Haryana, he spoke against the politics of untouchability. He called upon students in schools to actively participate in cleanliness drives beginning on 14th November (the 125th birth anniversary of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru) and ending on 19th November (the birth anniversary of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi).

This raises a pertinent question. Would Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar and his eminent colleagues from the Kerala unit of the Congress Party now deem it fit to criticize the respect accorded to two former Prime Ministers of India from the Congress Party? Equally important is how do they, as Indians supposedly swearing allegiance to the Constitution of India, view the institution of the Prime Minister?

Mr Narendra Modi has unequivocally spoken his intent of the office by serving every Indian in a non-partisan manner. However, with their opposition, are not the Congress leaders confirming their myopic vision that diminishes the highest office of the land as one for serving the party rather than the country?

While concluding, one wonders whether this writer's concern, as a BJP spokesperson, may further add to Dr Tharoor's political woes! He for one has certainly risen above the partisan confines of petty political untouchability. Unfortunately his colleagues from Kerala are confirming beyond doubt, that they prefer to see the betterment of Indians and of India as subservient to their narrow political objectives.

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