Malappuram: Unfazed over the internal rumblings in the Congress’ Kerala unit on his Malabar tour and swelling support for him, Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday said neither he was afraid of anyone nor should anyone fear him, as he continued his tour of the region and also met senior leaders of his party-led UDF ally IUML here. In response to a query by the media as to who was afraid of his tour, Tharoor said, “I do not fear anyone and there is no need for anyone to be afraid of me.” He also said he was not interested in creating any group within the state Congress.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP’s remarks assume significance amidst speculation that a section of the Congress leadership in Kerala appears to be apprehensive over the increasing support he was enjoying and the emergence of a ‘Tharoor group’ within the party in the state, where it lost power to rival CPI(M) in 2016.
Tharoor, however, downplayed his meeting with the IUML leaders at the residence of Sadiq Ali Shihab Thangal at Panakkad by saying it was just a courtesy call on the way to an event in the district.
Other senior Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) leaders present there also termed his visit as nothing unusual and said they all go and meet Thangal whenever they pass through the area.
Tharoor, accompanied by his staunch supporter and MP M K Raghavan, also said he has no intention or interest in creating a group.
“Some are saying it is (his tour) divisive tactics or groupism. We do not intend to create any group nor are we interested in it. Congress is already full of ‘A’ and ‘I’ groups and there is no need to add any more alphabets like ‘O’ and ‘V’.” The “A” and “I” groups in Congress party in Kerala have been active since the days of late K Karunakaran and AK Antony, both former Chief Ministers.
“If there has to be an alphabet, it should be ‘U’ for a united Congress which is what we all need. There is nothing unusual about this visit. I fail to see the need to make a big deal out of two UDF MPs meeting an ally’s leaders,” Tharoor said.
He said at a time when divisive politics was active in the country, there was a need for politics which would bring together everyone and it was praiseworthy that IUML recently held programmes to promote brotherhood in Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai.
After meeting Tharoor, Thangal said his family has had close relations with the MP ever since he came to Kerala. “He is invited to all important events, occasions. Therefore, when he was here, he came to meet us,” Thangal said.
On being asked if he wants Tharoor to be active in Kerala politics, he said, “he (Tharoor) is already active. He is an MP from Kerala. He won twice from here. He is not confined to Thiruvananthapuram. He is a good campaigner.”
Tharoor’s Malabar tour appears to have rattled a significant section in Congress in Kerala with a few of them sensing an “agenda” behind his move. Tharoor’s opponents in the party feel that through his programmes he was trying to position himself as an ideal chief ministerial candidate of the Congress-led UDF for the 2026 Assembly polls to end the rule of the CPI(M)-led LDF in the state.
Congress MP K Muraleedharan, former president of the KPCC and son of legendary Congress leader Karunakaran, also indicated as much when he on Monday said the restriction on Congress members participating in an event to which Tharoor was invited may have been imposed by some who desire to be the party’s CM candidate in Kerala and may have been feeling threatened by Tharoor’s activities in the state.