Cong needs only a united group, says Tharoor after meeting IUML Leaders

Shashi Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor with Sayyid Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal. Photo: Manorama

Malappuram: Congress leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor said he is not interested in forming another group in the party and too much should not be read into his Malabar travels.

He was speaking after a breakfast meeting with the leadership of the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a Congress ally on Tuesday.

The meeting was held at the house of IUML state president Syed Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal at Panakkad in Malappuram.

Kozhikode MP and Congress leader M K Raghavan, who is anchoring Tharoor's travel in Malabar districts, was by his side.

"It is not an unusual visit. Two UDF MPs are meeting leaders of a constituent party of the UDF. There is no big news in it. Some say this is a divisive move to form a group," Tharoor said.

"There is no chance of us forming a group. Neither are we interested in it. There is no need for A, I, O, or B groups in the Congress. If there is a need for a letter, it should be 'U', he said. "A united Congress is what we need," he said.

Tharoor said he and Raghavan were at Panakkad to speak for the Congress, the UDF, and because of their own conviction.

The visit to Panakkad, the headquarters of the IUML, comes against the backdrop of tittle-tattle that the Muslim League is propping up Tharoor as a "secular face" of the Congress. Particularly after Congress state president K Sudhakaran said he had provided protection to RSS shakhas (branches) in Kannur district from the CPM, and that Jawaharlal Nehru was magnanimous to accommodate Hindu Maha Sabha leader Syama Prasad Mookerje in his first cabinet. 

Though factually correct, IUML leaders thought Sudhakaran was pandering to the RSS and giving the organisation legitimacy in Kerala.

The IUML buried the controversy after a high-level meeting last week but according to reports, the party leadership did not give Sudhakaran an appointment for a meeting.

In contrast, the top leaders of IUML were present for Tharoor's meeting on Tuesday. The meeting lasted around 45 minutes.

IUML state president Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal underplayed the meeting as a "friendly visit" for breakfast but senior party leader P K Kunhalikutty said the meeting was political.

Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal said Tharoor had a close relationship with his family, especially his late elder brother and former IUML state president Panakkad Sayid Hyder Ali Shihab Thangal. "This visit is a continuation of that relationship," he said.

Tharoor was in Malappuram for an event and said he would have breakfast at Panakkad and so he came, said the IUML state president.

Kunhalikutty, the party's national general secretary, said they discussed the possibilities of the UDF in today's political climate. "But we did not discuss the internal affairs or the organisational matters of the Congress. That is not IUML," he said.

IUML state general secretary PMA Salam and Youth League president Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal were among the leaders present in the meeting.

Malappuram district Congress president VS Joy later received Tharoor in the party's district headquarters amid sloganeering by party workers. He spent around 10 minutes in the DDC office.

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