With placards in their hands and slogans on their lips, thousands of supporters gathered at the airport in the Kerala capital on Saturday to greet Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on his first visit to his constituency after quitting as MoS for External Affairs.
“We support Tharoor” seemed to be the most popular placard, while another read, “Show people that we, the people, stand with Shashi Tharoor”.
Tharoor resigned earlier this week in the wake of allegations that he misused his position to help a business consortium win a bid to own a Kerala-based team in the IPL.
The minister was also accused of profiting from the franchise as one of his close friends, Sunanda Pushkar, owned a stake in the consortium.
While the state Congress leadership appeared to have deserted Tharoor over the controversy, students, techies and cricket fans — mostly youngsters — far outnumbered party workers gathered at the airport. But some party workers did their bit, placing a crown of jasmines on Tharoor’s head.
“Tharoor, we are with you. You only batted for Kerala. We know your hands are clean,” they chanted as he emerged with his trademark impish smile.
Speaking in his heavily accented Malayalam, Tharoor said, “I have gone through many tests. I came out in flying colours. I am sure I’ll come out of the latest also.”
A scheduled press meet with the ex-minister was cancelled, apparently at the behest of the Congress leadership.
“We all thought he would put things straight today. But we heard the PMO intervened to stop it,” said Aravind Jayan, a software professional.
Left parties’ activists also appeared, demanding Tharoor’s resignation. They were arrested for carrying sleazy pictures of Tharoor and Pushkar.