Confident that he will win from Thiruvananthapuram again, Shashi Tharoor, who has represented the constituency twice, says that the youth of the country will play a significant role in the current polls. Speaking to Express Chief of Bureau Anil S, Tharoor also expressed his displeasure over the recent defection of Tom Vadakkan to BJP and why Rahul Gandhi deserves to be the next Prime Minister.
Q: Senior CPI leader C Divakaran is the Left candidate in your constituency while the BJP is all set to field a former Governor. How confident are you about winning?
A: I think my work for Thiruvananthapuram and the people who reside here in itself offers a great source of confidence about my quest for another opportunity to represent the people. I am glad that the contest is with a former Governor and a former minister because that will be a worthy fight for the values that define our land. I believe I will prevail.
Q: The BJP has been raising allegations over the death of your wife. Recently, BJP state chief P S Sreedharan Pillai too made a defamatory remark in this regard. How do you propose to take on such accusations?
A: Sreedharan Pillai and the BJP machinery at large must certainly feel threatened by my presence and views and handicapped by their inability to fight me fair and square. That is why they are resorting to false accusations and cheap innuendos. These lies must stop and that is why I have filed a defamation case against Sreedharan Pillai. Challenge my work as an MP, don’t invent lies about my personal life!
Q: Don’t you think such mudslinging could reflect among voters in the coming LS polls?
A: Not really. For one, the majority of the electorate, particularly in Thiruvananthapuram, are far too intelligent and discerning to be swayed by petty politics based on falsehoods.
Q: The Left maintains that other than mere promises, you haven’t done anything for the constituency. Contesting for a third term, how do you evaluate your achievements?
A: If the Left even took the effort to look at my MP progress report, they themselves would have to acknowledge how misguided their leaders are by suggesting this standard line. I am confident that the work that I have done for Thiruvananthapuram speaks for itself. My main promise is to keep doing the same for another five years.
Q: Many Congress leaders are migrating to the BJP and Tom Vadakkan is the latest example. Is it because the Congress senses a BJP victory?
A: I think it’s unfortunate that Tom Vadakkan has fallen prey to the allure of petty chauvinistic politics and bigotry that is inextricably linked to the BJP today. To a certain extent, I am pained by the hypocrisy in his decision to join an organisation that is fundamentally antithetical to all the values and principles Tom has argued for during his tenure in politics.
But at the same time, I wouldn’t be too fussed by it. For one thing, he was hardly noticed when he was in the party, so why is it big news when he left? For another, defections are happening on both ends and among the various political parties in India. I honestly don’t see what difference he can make for the BJP.
Q: How decisive would be the young voters in the current polls?
A: I think youth, not just in Thiruvananthapuram but in the country at large will play a significant role in the current polls. And they should if they want to raise their voice against the step-motherly treatment that has been handed out to them by the present ruling dispensation. Unemployment is at an all-time high, job losses are rampant, the economy at large is in a shambles due to demonetisation and the hasty implementation of GST.
Our education system has also been wrecked through low budgetary allocations. All of these have dented the prospects and future of our youth. They must certainly step and express their dissatisfaction through ballot box. Ultimately, my message to the youth of the country is this: Politics is not just about the choices you will have to make in the general elections but about decisions that are being taken every day that will inevitably affect your daily life.
Q: If a Congress-led government comes to power, can we expect you to play a big role? Who would be the PM?
A: I am confident that a Congress-led government will come to power at the Centre, and when it does I will undertake whatever responsibilities the party sees fit to give me. But that being said, all of the issues that you have raised, including any decision on the PM candidate put forward by the Congress and its allies, will emerge from established processes and conventions, which will, of course, have to be representative of the interests of the larger coalition that the Congress helms.
At a personal level, having had several interactions and discussions in close quarters with the Congress president, to my mind it is evidently clear that Rahul Gandhi has all the right qualities to make an excellent Prime Minister. His inclusive style of leadership, a willingness to reach across the political divide, paired with a distinctive charisma, humility and remarkable awareness, all suggest that he would be able to fittingly match the expectations of the top job.