Tharoor’s electioneering gets a leg up

Nana Patole has been given the task of coordinating electioneering

The election campaign of Shashi Tharoor got a leg up, with senior party leaders holding a review here on Sunday to ensure his victory from the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha constituency.

Mr. Tharoor is pitted against C. Divakaran of the CPI and Kummanom Rajasekharan of the BJP. There were reports about cold campaigning as a result of factional tussles, prompting the party high command to intervene. However, officially the party leadership has denied any problems related to Mr. Tharoor’s electioneering. The meeting was reportedly attended by KPCC president Mullappally Ramachandran, AICC general secretaries Mukul Wasnik and K.C. Venugopal.

According to senior Congress leaders here, the party leadership had taken guard in Thiruvananthapuram not because of factional issues but because of contemporary surveys and debates that had identified Thiruvananthapuram as one of the constituencies where the BJP stood a chance to win. Besides, being the capital of the State, the victory for Mr. Tharoor had more than a symbolic value, they said. The review meeting decided to formulate appropriate strategies to react to the rival candidates’ electioneering charges.

Later, Mr. Wasnik told media persons that the party’s central observer, Nana Patole, had been given the task of coordinating electioneering and not on the basis of any complaint. Mr. Patole, who was the first of the party’s central observers to the 16 Parliament seats that the Congress in contesting in Kerala, also asserted that the party high command had not received any complaints.

Mr. Ramachandran maintained that there was nothing extraordinary in the arrival of a central observer. Party sources said some more leaders would arrive here mainly to coordinate electioneering.

Mr. Patole, who took on Union Minister Nitin Gadhkari in Nagpur, which went to the polls on April 11 in the first phase, was the first of the central observers to arrive in the State.

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