Congress MP Shashi Tharoor returned to Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday seemingly a triumphant man after his four-day Malabar Mission.
After Opposition Leader V D Satheesan's balloon remark on November 22, the huge turnout of Congressmen at the Jawahar Library Hall should have come as a big boost to Tharoor. Without taking any names, Satheesan had said that certain leaders were mere media-generated balloons that would quickly shrink with a poke of a needle
It was a relaxed and smiling Tharoor who met reporters on his way out of the Thiruvananthapuram airport on Wednesday. He said it was usual for him to deliver lectures in various parts of Kerala on topics ranging from health and law to secularism and politics. "These topics are not selected by me. It is the organisers who decide the topics and invite me," he said. "Do you mean to say that I should avoid these invites," he asked.
Tharoor said that his participation in such events was so routine that he had delivered speeches across Kerala every year and wondered why it had suddenly become such a controversy. "Not only that, whenever I had travelled, the DCC leaders themselves would compel me to speak. I have also made it a point to accept all the invites given to me by the Congress party if I had the time," Tharoor said, all with a slight amused smile that suggested he was at a loss to fathom the outburst of certain Congress leaders.
Tharoor confirmed that Satheesan was a co-passenger on his return flight. "He was there but our seats were apart. So I did not get the opportunity to talk to him," Tharoor said.
"I have never really understood why a controversy ensued when two Congress MPs (Palakkad MP M K Raghavan being the other) spoke the Congress line in Congress-friendly language at pro-Congress platforms," Tharoor said.
Moreover, he said there were also complaints that he was not giving Malabar the necessary importance. He also seemed to quite cheekily hint that his popularity among party workers had grown after he decided to contest for the post of the Congress president. "In fact, the calls to visit Malabar increased during the election time. So I thought I will plan a visit of four-to-five days after the elections," he said.
Tharoor also made it clear that he would ot be stopped from going ahead with his political outreach. He said he got calls for such interactions from non-political individuals as well as from the party. "Taking part in such events I have done before and will continue to do so in future. It should be nobody else's business," he said.
Tharoor also said that it was with great pride that he had accepted an invite from the NSS to inaugurate the 146th Mannam Jayanthi celebrations at Changanassery on January 2 next year. The Muslim League, too, had accorded him a warm welcome befitting a top national leader at Panakkad on November 22.
The NSS and the IUML have laid a red carpet for Tharoor at a time when both these outfits have publicly disapproved of the official Congress leadership. The NSS supremo Sukumaran Nair was peeved at opposition leader V D Satheesan's declaration that he would not grovel in front of communal leaders. The IUML, on the other hand, was angered by KPCC chief K Sudhakaran's consecutive statements that seemed to unabashedly suggest a Congress-Sangh Parivar link.
If, as the official Congress leadership fear, Tharoor is putting himself up as a Chief Ministerial candidate, the endorsement of the NSS and the IUML can tilt the scales clearly in his favour.