Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor has been forced to make a U-turn after his own words have come to haunt him. On the sidelines of an event organised by NSUI at Delhi University, Tharoor said it ‘irritates’ him a lot when it is reported that he has praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Give me an example, which statements I have supported. The problem is media reports are completely unfounded. Frankly, it irritates me greatly whenever the media talks about ‘Tharoor’s praise for Modi’,” he told reporters. He claimed that his words were misunderstood as he had only suggested that Congress should introspect why people voted for Narendra Modi again in 2019.
Tharoor, who has been compelled to eat his own words, has been drawing flak within his party for his recent remarks in support of party colleague Jairam Ramesh.
Recently, Congress veteran Ramesh had begrudgingly admitted mistakes made by his party by blindly ridiculing PM Modi. He had said that demonising the PM all the time is not going to help Congress and Modi’s governance model is not an “all negative story.”
Echoing Ramesh’s sentiments, Tharoor had claimed that he has always been a proponent of praising PM Modi for his right policy decisions. Tharoor stated that lauding PM Modi for correct decisions will also add to the credibility of the opposition. “As you know, I have argued for six years now that Narendra Modi should be praised whenever he says or does the right thing, which would add credibility to our criticisms whenever he errs. I welcome others in opposition coming around to a view for, which I was excoriated at the time,” Tharoor had said.
These remarks by Tharoor had drawn state party unit president’s ire, who had proceeded to assert that Tharoor would be asked to explain his comments regarding PM Modi. Since then Tharoor has been hounded by Kerala Congress to clarify his remarks.
Probably backtracking due to party pressure, Tharoor today, reiterated his challenge to his critics to give examples of his praise of Modi. “What I have said is that our principle should be that we should understand why people voted for Mr Modi. We as an opposition party got 19 per cent votes in 2014 and 19 per cent in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. BJP under Mr Modi got 31 per cent in 2014 and 37 per cent in 2019. Many of these people who used to vote for us in the past went to the BJP,” he said.
The Congress needs to win back these people who left it to vote for the BJP in 2019, he asserted.
“See, we do not know why they left us and how to win them back. So, I said let us try and figure it out, I am not praising Mr Modi, I am saying let us understand why he attracted these votes,” Tharoor argued.
Giving examples of Modi’ schemes for construction of toilets and Ujjwala Yojna for cooking gas connections to poor households in the country, which possibly contributed to BJP’s victory, he said that Congress needs to point out “mistakes and failings” in these schemes.
“If it’s toilets, then let us understand that 65 per cent of these toilets do not have running water if it is gas cylinders let us acknowledge that it was a good thing to do but 92 per cent of the beneficiaries have not been able to afford refills,” he added.
Tharoor like most of his party members has generally been extremely critical of PM Modi. However, besides this, Tharoor had once more gone against his congenital nature and backed Modi after US President Donald Trump’s controversial statement on Kashmir. He had then stated that he does not believe Trump’s statement and it is impossible that India’s PM will ever ask anyone for mediation in the Kashmir issue.
One is left to wonder when this ‘slip-up’ of his will also come to hound him and force him to take another U-turn as this one.