Reports about ‘praising Modi’ irritates me, says Shashi Tharoor

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Published: September 4, 2019 9:09 PM

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor clarified that he was only suggesting that the party should figure out why people voted Prime Minister Narendra Modi back to power in 2019.

Shashi Tharoor, Shashi Tharoor on Modi, Shashi Tharoor criticised, demonise Modi, India newsTharoor said the Congress needs to win back those people who left it to vote for the BJP in 2019 (PTI/File Photo)

Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday reacted sharply on the criticism he received for praising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and said it irritates him a lot. He clarified that he was only suggesting that the party should figure out why people voted Narendra Modi back to power in 2019, adding the Congress needs to win back those people who left it to vote for the BJP in 2019.

Tharoor has been facing flak from within the Congress party, especially with the Kerala Congress state unit asking him to clarify his remarks in support of his colleague Jairam Ramesh who asked the Congress to stop demonising Modi.

Read | “Wrong to demonise PM Modi”: Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Shashi Tharoor back Jairam Ramesh in seeking fresh narrative in Congress

“Give me an example, which statements I have supported. The problem is media reports are completely unfounded. Frankly, it irritates me greatly whenever media talks about ‘Tharoor’s praise for Modi’,” he told reporters on the sidelines of an event organised by NSUI at Delhi University.

A few days ago Tharoor had said, “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 reiterated his challenge to critics at the university event to give example 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.

“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.

Citing Modi government’s 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 the 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 good thing to do but 92 per cent of the beneficiaries have not been able to afford refills,” he said.

On the government’s Swachh Bharat mission, Tharoor commented that Swachh Bharat was a good idea but it “unfortunately” was reduced to “photo-ops”.

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