Young Congress leaders in Kerala, who rallied behind Shashi Tharoor in the recent election to the post of party president, are upbeat about the poll results, though the Thiruvananthapuram MP had to bite the dust. Tharoor was trounced by Mallikarjun Kharge bagging over 84 per cent of the votes in the presidential election. Kharge, a loyalist of the official faction close to the Nehru-Gandhi family, polled 7,897 Pradesh Congress Committee delegate votes out of 9,385, while Tharoor, who dared to take on the establishment, had to settle for 1,072.
The Kerala leaders, who openly backed Tharoor in a direct challenge to the state leadership who supported Kharge, however, are of the view that the cause they stood for has won. Youth Congress state vice president K S Sabarinadhan, M K Raghavan MP, Mathew Kuzhalnadan MLA and Hibi Eden MP were among those who declared their support to Tharoor who entered the poll fray with the slogan of change.
“Like I have been repeatedly saying from the beginning, this election will strengthen the base of Congress. The strength of internal democracy that the election expressed is also a lesson for other parties,” Sabarinadhan, one of the PCC delegates who signed Tharoor’s nomination, said. In a detailed Facebook post, he went on to say that the value of the votes polled by Tharoor was not at all small. “Not only that he moved ahead braving all crises, but also that the ideals he stood for has energised ordinary party workers and supporters. Hence the value of the votes he polled are manifold than their actual value,” he said. He also expressed hope that the party leadership will not refuse to entertain the ordinary party workers’ demand that Tharoor get a due place in the organisation.
Muvattupuzha MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan echoed Sabarinadhan’s views on the strength of internal democracy. “I would like to believe that this election will be a catalyst of further reforms at all levels of the party,” he told Onmanorama.
Ernakulam MP Hibi Eden expressed his reaction to the poll results in a quirky Facebook post with a cinematic reference. “Shammi Thanneyada Hero” (Shammy is still the hero), Eden wrote on Facebook drawing from a hit dialogue rendered by Fahadh Faasil’s anti-hero character in the film “Kumbalangi Nights”.
The young leaders’ public stand in favour of a candidate against the high-command centred Congress establishment is seen as a daring act provided the party’s history of rewarding loyalty.
How many votes from Kerala?
Sources in the Tharoor camp claimed that he would have polled over 100 votes from Kerala alone. However, it cannot be confirmed as the votes were not counted state-wise. The Tharoor camp makes the claim of winning the support of one third of the PCC delegates in the state as part of the move to project their leader as the next big leader of the Congress in the state. A leader outside the camp substantiated their claim with his assessment that “Tharoor must have polled over 80 votes from Kerala”. That shows the desperation of the young generation in the party for an overall change rather than the blind support to any leader, including Tharoor, he said.