At least one Lok Sabha MP from Kerala is among those who support Shashi Tharoor’s bid for Congress president post.
M K Raghavan, who represent Kozhikode constituency, has signed Tharoor’s nomination papers, sources close to the developments said.
Former Aruvikkara MLA and Youth Congress state vice president K S Sabarinadhan is another prominent leader from Kerala who has signed the nomination.
Former Neyyatinkara MLA Thampanoor Ravi and former Pathanamthitta District Congress Committee president Mohan Raj have also endorsed Tharoor’s nomination, it is learnt.
Explaining why did he decide to support Tharoor, Sabarinadhan highlighted the latter's ideological commitment and communication skills.
"There is no other Congress leader who can articulate the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and B R Ambedkar so effectively in a manner that suits the 21st century," Sabarinadhan said.
He also said Tharoor would be able to lead the anti-BJP activism with his secular credentials. "In his political career, Tharoor has never blamed the party. Even as many others left the party and even when he faced several personal issues, he stood within the party and made use of the freedom of opinion. He is a 100 per cent Congressman, though in a different way," he wrote on Facebook.
Mohan Raj said he decided to support Tharoor as he has the capacity to take on the Sangh Parivar driven Modi government.
“I have signed Shashi Tharoor's nomination paper for the post of Congress president through democratic means. Tharoor entered the fray as no one from the Nehru family is contesting. At a time the central government under the control of the Sangh Parivar organisations is trying to destroy all the progress the country has made, let a world known leader like Tharoor be the Congress president,” Mohan Raj said.
As many as 14 leaders from Kerala have signed Tharoor’s nomination papers. There are speculations that Pathanamthitta MP Anto Antony has also signed.
Tharoor, the Thiruvananthapuram MP, will file his nomination this afternoon. The source in the Tharoor camp said they have ensured support from across the state. “It is evident from the names of the signatories,” the source said.
The diplomat-turned-politician has been among those calling for internal elections ever since Congress’ 2019 drubbing and Rahul Gandhi’s subsequent resignation as party chief.
According to the party’s rules, one needs the support of 10 delegates with voting rights to file nomination.
Kerala has some 300-odd delegates with voting right. The Tharoor camp is hopeful to get the support of at least 100 of them, the source said.
They also hope to find a considerable number of votes from other states; at least a figure that is enough to drive a point home.
Tharoor will be facing senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge in the race to the top post in the party. Kharge entered the fray at the last minute on Friday.
He is possibly contesting as a candidate with the backing of the official faction led by the Gandhi-Nehru family.
The party leadership has, however, been maintaining that the family does not back any particular candidate.
Kharge was asked to contest after the plans to make Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot ended up in a huge embarrassment to the party.
The party high-command’s decision to elevate Gehlot to the top post and replace him with Sachin Pilot as chief minister failed miserably after over 90 MLAs supporting the former threatened to quit in case of such an arrangement.
Ever since the election was announced, Tharoor has been of the view that a contest would only strengthen the party.
Tharoor had met party president Sonia Gandhi before declaring his decision to contest and Rahul Gandhi recently as his Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Palakkad district.
His meetings with the Gandhis before filing nomination are seen as a tactical move to send out a message to the ranks and files that he is not a ‘rebel’ candidate.
The process for filing nominations for the election started on September 24 and will continue till September 30, according to a notification issued by the party.
The date for scrutiny of the nomination papers is October 1, while the last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8.
The final list of candidates will be published at 5pm on October 8.
The polling will be held on October 17 if the need arises. The counting of votes will be held on October 19 and the results will be declared the same day.