The ‘official’ AICC faction led by K.C. Venugopal was given more heartburn when Shashi Tharoor unexpectedly entered the race for the Congress presidency and unexpectedly won with more than 1,000 votes. Now, Tharoor is back in the news and there is talk of his election to the Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body. The CWC has 23 seats, with 12 elected members and 11 president-nominated candidates.
The negotiations are progressing as Malikarjuna Kharge, the party’s first president who is not a member of the Gandhi family in more than 20 years, assumes office on Wednesday at the AICC headquarters in Delhi. Despite being elected three times to the Lok Sabha from the prestigious Thiruvananthapuram constituency, Tharoor has yet to receive any kind of support from party leaders who are close to the Gandhi family, including those in his native Kerala. This is in spite of the fact that he has a very strong following, particularly among the youth, the intelligentsia, and women. Consequently, there is a current social media effort to get him a spot in the CWC.
Former Union Minister A.K. Antony and twice-ex-Chief Minister Oommen Chandy both had positions in the outgoing AICC, but as neither of them are now in excellent health, it is uncertain where they will fit into Kharge’s new organisational structure. Kodikunnil Suresh, a seven-term member of the Lok Sabha from the Scheduled Caste community who is well-known for his loyalty to the Gandhi family, is one candidate for the CWC positions. Even after winning the polls, Kharge maintained that Tharoor shouldn’t have run.
Ramesh Chennithala, a senior Congress leader and a former home minister, is another who is eager to advance in the party’s hierarchy because, despite receiving the majority of votes for the position of leader of the opposition, which he held from 2016 to 21, the position was given to V.D. Satheesan after chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan was re-elected in 2021. Son of the illustrious K. Karunakaran, K. Muraleedharan, is another person who believes he is the appropriate candidate. He has recently backed whatever the high command has been doing and quickly criticises any politician who speaks against the interests of the AICC.
Those who are close to Tharoor anticipate that the AICC won’t be able to ignore Tharoor’s ability or the value he would add. But many are also aware that he might not get approved because, if he does, it might generate problems for Kharge and the Gandhi family, who many believe would still be in charge of the party through ‘remote control’. Therefore, everyone will be watching Kharge’s ordination day and the treatment of Tharoor at the event on Wednesday.