Days after he joined a meeting of Congress “rebels”, Shashi Tharoor has been told by Sonia Gandhi not to defy his party’s Kerala unit by attending a Left seminar next month. At a tense meeting this afternoon, Sonia Gandhi’s message to Shashi Tharoor was – listen to the Kerala leadership.
Shashi Tharoor, KV Thomas and Mani Shankar Aiyar have been invited to the CPM national seminar from April 6 to 10.
The Congress in Kerala has banned anyone from attending the event.
Sources say when Congress leaders from Kerala met with Sonia Gandhi at the party’s parliamentary office in Delhi, some raised concerns about their colleagues “embarrassing” the party by going for the CPM event. Sonia Gandhi, sources say, sternly said leaders who had been invited to the CPM’s seminar must comply with the decision of the Kerala state Congress.
Mr Tharoor has already checked the box for defiance by joining a meeting last week of the “G-23” or group of 23 dissenters who had written to Sonia Gandhi two years ago, asking for an overhaul of the party organisation and “visible, full-time leadership”.
Till now, the former Union Minister, who is also a signatory to the letter, had distanced himself from the letter and was seen to be a fence-sitter when it came to the Gandhis.
But on Wednesday, he joined 18 leaders – those from the G-23 and some newcomers – in a meeting to discuss the Congress’ recent election defeats and what they believe is the party’s refusal to take hard decisions that could include a leadership change.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP has also rattled many Congress leaders in Delhi by praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a man of “tremendous vigour and dynamism” and crediting him with the BJP’s huge victory in the Uttar Pradesh election. For the Congress, the elections in five states was an all-round disaster and in UP, yet another indicator that the Gandhis are unable to win voters back.