Key role for Shashi Tharoor as Kerala Congress gets into poll mode
- Announcing Tharoor’s elevation, state election committee head Oommen Chandy said he will tour the state extensively and meet a cross-section of people including youngsters before preparing a manifesto.
Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, also Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram, has been made the Kerala election manifesto committee head as the party got into poll mode with the arrival of the three-member All India Congress Committee (AICC) observers headed by Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot.
Announcing Tharoor’s elevation, state election committee head Oommen Chandy said he will tour the state extensively and meet a cross-section of people including youngsters before preparing a manifesto. He said the party will take enough measures to attract the youth and fulfill their aspirations. “Our manifesto will reflect people’s aspirations and emotions. It will set the tone for the poll,” Chandy said. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala will begin his state-wide yatra on January 31.
This is the first time that the state unit is giving a key responsibility to the three-time MP. A hit among youngsters, the party is all set to use Tharoor’s social media outreach and inspiring lectures and writings to its advantage.
The party’s central leadership has given strict instructions to the state unit to field more youngsters and women in the April-May assembly elections. The party pressed the emergency button after the ruling CPI (M) notched an emphatic win in the local body elections last month. In a recent poll survey also, the majority supported Pinarayi Vijayan as the first choice for next CM and it forced many Congress leaders to close their ranks and work for victory.
Going by the poll history of the state which never gives the incumbent a chance to continue in power, the Congress was overconfident but local body results dented its expectations and the party high command stepped in.
AICC observers-- Gehlot, former Goa CM Luizinho Faleior and former Karnataka deputy CM G Parameswara-- who arrived in the state on Friday held a series of talks with leaders and party legislators and MPs. They also met sulking leader K V Thomas, former Union minister, and got an assurance from him that he won’t leave the party. He will be given a new position, possibly the post of the working president, said a senior leader.
Denied a Lok Sabha seat in the last election, Thomas was sulking for some time after the state leadership failed to accommodate him properly. He had approached the party seeking an assembly seat but he was told that there were specific instructions from the party high command to try more young leaders this time. After this, he started charting out his future plans and turned to the Left. Thomas later said party president Sonia Gandhi had called him and he assured her that he will work to strengthen the party.