With general elections round the corner, the tragedy that has struck minister of state for HRD Shashi Tharoor has come at a bad time, politically.
His constituency, Thiruvananthapuram, was being seen by the Congress as one of the five sure seats it could win amid a strong anti-incumbency sentiment and litany of corruption charges against the Congress-led United Democratic Front government headed by Oommen Chandy. Of the 20 Lok Sabha seats in Kerala, the UDF had won 17 in 2009.
Tharoor had in his electoral debut in 2009 trounced his CPI rival by around 100,000 votes and admitted later that he himself was surprised by the huge margin of victory. Tharoor nursed his constituency well, spending most of the Rs 5 crore from his MP Local Area Development Scheme fund for Thiruvananthapuram and was almost certain to be re-nominated.
But things don’t look so rosy now. This is evident at the state Congress headquarters at Indira Bhawan. Even local leaders who are pally with him are not ready to rally around him. “Wait for a few days,” is the common refrain, referring to the details of the post-mortem report on his wife Sunanda Pushkar, which are expected to be out sometime next week.
The opposition CPM has already made it clear that Pushkar’s “unnatural” death will be a poll issue. Its youth wing DFYI hit the streets on Saturday, seeking a high-level inquiry against the minister.
Meanwhile in Delhi, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy commenting on Sunanda’s sudden death, said it seemed to be a case of “pre planned murder”. He said: “We must know what is the truth, and who was she likely to harm, for whom was her living a dangerous thing.” His party colleague Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi too called for an investigation, saying truth must be revealed.