Lok Sabha elections 2019: Shashi Tharoor aims for a hat-trick from Thiruvananthapuram
With his cut-glass accent, foreign demeanor and little knowledge of mother tongue when former diplomat Shashi Tharoor (63) descended on Thiruvananthapuram 10 years ago he was a green horn but graduated to being a seasoned politician in no time.
Now, when he visits a remote village, he calls local leaders by their names and can give you a lec-dem in Malayalam. And people have stood by him through thick and thin. In 2014 after his third wife Sunanda Pushkar’s mysterious death, there was a virulent campaign against him but he managed to sail through with a slender margin of 15,500 votes.
Eyeing a hat-trick this time, he is in the midst of his voters again. But, for a change this time he is not facing a barrage of charges but formidable rivals-- BJP’s Kummanam Rajasekharan and CPI’s former minister C Divakaran.
Last week when his rival, ex-Mizoram Governor and former RSS pracharak Rajasekharan, cleaned a dirty pond in Maruthamkuzhy, Tharoor’s reply was to take an auto ride through busy intersections to prove a point. “Auto-drivers need proper resting places,” he said after the ride, promising a rest room after his return to Parliament. “He re-invented auto-rickshaws and learnt of drivers’ plight for the first time,” his critics said.
Tharoor, however, exudes confidence and says youngsters are his strength. “I am one among them (voters). My work in the constituency talks for me,” he says adding he has no doubt that he would score a poll hat-trick. Wherever the Congress leader travels in the constituency, youth and women always mob him and queue up for selfies. His very presence brings a high-profile tag to the constituency, a supporter says.
But his rivals accuse him of only ‘talking and doing little else’. “Where is the twin city programme connecting Thiruvananhapuram with Barcelona? Ask him how many days he spent in his constituency in the last ten years? He is a champ in making hollow promises,” says his rival Rajasekharan.
But, the former UN assistant secretary general and author of many well- known books dismisses these charges as cheap electoral gimmicks. “Some of them are doing a research on my works to read between lines. I am not worried, my people know me well,” he says. The youngest to earn a doctorate from Fletcher School he joined politics in 2009 after spending 23 years with the United Nations.
He made an unsuccessful attempt to UN Secretary General’s post but was defeated by Ban-Ki-Moon of South Korea. Though his parents hail from Tharoor in Palakkad he spent most of his early years in Delhi, Kolkota and abroad.