Following the thrashing of Congress in Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2017, an online petition is trying to project Shashi Tharoor as the PM candidate for 2019 General Elections. A former senior UN official and Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor is a dynamic personality. He is not just a politician but also a writer, thinker, diplomat with deep knowledge of the national and international issues and an excellent public speaker. But then, is he cut out for the rough and tough of Indian General Elections — that involve wooing people across the length and breadth of India’s diversity?
Here are a few reasons that suggest otherwise and why Tharoor can’t lift Congress’ fortunes in 2019:
- Tharoor, no doubt is a charismatic personality. But he is not connected to the ground and common people beyond Kerala. His appeal is limited to urban, educated youth of the country. Tharoor cannot attract rural Indians, especially in the north, east and western parts of the country. These parts make up for the most number of seats in Parliament.
- Campaigning during General Elections in India is a mammoth task. In 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi set the benchmark high by carrying out probably the most number of rallies and public contact programmes for a single election. Modi pulled it off because of his over a decade-long experience in electoral politics and his background as an RSS worker since his youth.
- In contrast, Tharoor comes across as a sophisticated intellectual whose ability to plunge into electoral politics can be questioned. Rahul Gandhi recently came out of the closet to take a deep plunge into electoral politics in UT. His effort didn’t pay off but it is unlikely that someone like Tharoor can unseat him from Congress top post.
— Youth Congress (@IYC) March 12, 2017
- Tharoor has the experience of contesting elections only in a Parliamentary Constituency. In 2019, if selected, he would be pitted against a confident PM Modi. This is one challenge Tharoor would rather like to avoid.
- Tharoor is an excellent speaker of English language. But, voters in densely populated prize states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chattisgarh etc. like to listen to leaders who can talk in their own language, or at least try to do so. PM Modi has set the benchmark in this regard also.
- Congress party appears to be on an irreversible decline. Its cadres are disappointed like never before. The biggest problem of the party is at the top and prominent leaders of Congress do not seem ready even now to change their ways.
- To take on Modi, Congress needs a grounded leader who can talk in the language of the people and not like Rahul Gandhi, who often doesn’t seem to know what he is speaking about. Pitting Tharoor as PM candidate against Modi, hence, would also not make much difference for the party’s fortunes.
However, if Tharoor actually starts some ground work from now, he may stand a good chance of giving a tough fight to Modi. But, can Tharoor do so? The bigger question than the previous on is: Can Tharoor manage to pip Rahul Gandhi and become the face of the party.