Is Shashi Tharoor planning to run for Congress president?
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has set off speculations about him running for the party president's post after he called for a "free and fair" election for its leadership in an article for Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi. However, he has refused to comment on the same. He further wrote Congress should have also ideally announced elections for the dozen seats of the Congress Working Committee (CWC).
- On Sunday, Congress announced its presidential election schedule at a time when it is reeling from the sudden departure of several party veterans, especially Ghulam Nabi Azad.
- In his resignation letter, Azad slammed Rahul Gandhi for demolishing the party and ending its whole consultation mechanism.
- The announcement assumed significance as infighting continues to mar Congress, with several prominent politicians resigning one after the other.
In the aforementioned article, Tharoor called for several candidates to come forward to contest the Congress presidential election. He said the leadership vacuum has had a detrimental effect on the party. Drawing parallels to the British Conservative Party and its ongoing leadership tussle, he said a similar approach could revitalize the party by increasing national interest as well as galvanizing more voters toward it.
Tharoor further wrote the Congress needed to fix the leadership vacuum and institutionalize a process which would help party workers to have a concrete say in choosing the leaders and provide strong footing to the party. On the recent departure of several veteran leaders, he said the party workers, who are already dealing with disappointment of the election results, were vulnerable to further demoralization.
The last Congress presidential election was conducted in 2000 when Jitendra Prasada had a face-off with Sonia Gandhi but was routed with merely 94 out of 7,542 votes. Before that, an election for the post with multiple contenders was held in 1997 between Sitaram Kesari, Sharad Pawar, and Rajesh Pilot. Kesari had won as Pawar and Pilot collectively garnered only 1,236 of 7,460 votes.
Meanwhile, in the CWC's meeting on Sunday, member Anand Sharma—who recently resigned from a key Himachal Pradesh unit post—reportedly questioned the "sanctity" of the electoral rolls. Congress, however, said no such doubts were raised. To recall, there were allegations of electoral rolls being managed in the 1997 election by Kesari—who was incumbent at the time and his chosen leaders were heading various state units.