Kharge, Tharoor faceoff in status quoist Congress   


Photo credit Twitter Shashi Tharoor

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News Analysis

By Manish Anand

October 8: Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Saturday heaped praises on both the contestants in the fray for the election of the party president Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor. But the neutrality of the Gandhis in the first poll in over two decades is tough to digest given the manner in which Kharge came in the fray at the last hours.

Holding a press conference in Karnataka, Rahul Gandhi said that it was insulting for both Kharge and Tharoor that suggestions be made of either of them being remote-controlled. “Both are understanding and are people of stature,” he told reporters.

Congress working president Sonia Gandhi too had told Tharoor that the family would not intervene in the election for the party’s president. While Kharge is evidently being helped by the party machinery to give a semblance of him leading a campaign, Tharoor has taken off, with slogans and longer prose, while he is employing hashtags to good effects.

Tharoor has spent many of his professional years abroad, and may harbor the romantic ideas about the American and British politics where debates, campaigns and canvassing hold more significance than the decisions by a couple of individuals. Congress is a status quoist party, Harish Khare, veteran journalist and former media advisor to Manmohan Singh when he was Prime Minister, had said while he was still serving under UPA dispensation. That remains a bible for anyone to understand Congress.

Thus, the people are naturally disbelieving of when Rahul Gandhi says that the family would be neutral and the idea of remote-controlling the next chief of the party would be insulting for the contestants.

Kharge’s entry in the electoral arena of the president of the party is on the basis of circumstances surrounding the Gandhis, for sound bites are still in circulation of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and the party’s general secretary Ajay Maken to affirm that the family had made a choice, which was subverted by the usual political theatrics in Jaipur.

Indeed, Kharge is not a politically outrageous choice, for his Dalit background has kept the BJP in check from launching vicious attack on him in the past, while the dissident G23 within Congress surrendered their arms upon the announcement of his name.

But Kharge offers Congress protection of status quo. The Gandhis would run the show. Tharoor is challenging the status quo. He’s not part of the herd. If he win, if indeed miracles were to happen, there will be a new story in Congress.

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