Swachh Bharat campaign: Why Congress' criticism for Tharoor shows party's frustration

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Shashi Tharoor
Congress leader Shashi Tharoor has once again landed in controversy after he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Swachh Bharat' campaign. The former Union Minister, who is controversy's favourite child, is facing the backlash from his own partymen. But, the issue has raised a pertinent question whether such a criticism is really justified.

What Shashi Tharoor did?

After keeping silent all day even after other invitees like Sachin Tendulkar and Priyanka Chopra accepted the PM's challenge, the Thiruvananthpuram MP tweeted late on Friday night that he was honoured to accept the invitation.

"Honoured to accept the invitation of PM @narendramodi to join Clean India campaign. Just landed in Bucharest &heard d news. Action on return," Tharoor tweeted.

"Informed @PMOIndia (that) I was on a flight to Romania to attend&address #BucharestForum when his announcement came. Back Sunday. Clean India is4all." Tharoor, who praised Modi a couple of occasions before, however, said he was not a fan of tokenism and the challenge would be to sustain it beyond a week of photo ops.

Congress leaders fume at Tharoor

But, Tharoor, who is a staunch Modi critic, acknowledging the Prime Minister's invite to join his initiative to make the country clean has irked the Congress leaders. They have even questioned the loyalty of their leader who has been a renowned diplomat.

A stinging editorial in the Congress daily "Veekshnam", without naming the target, said loyalty of those who pens "love letters" to Modi through social media and writes adulatory articles in edit pages will be suspected. The write-up, replete with oblique references to Tharoor's expertise in foreign policy issues, concluded by quoting the Malayalam saying that "even the gold-yielding tree should be felled if it poses a threat to one's home."

Stating that it is rather strange that somebody who is authorised as a spokesperson of the Congress is indulging in eulogising Modi, the editorial said "seeking campus selection from the BJP by sitting in the Congress camp is nothing but sheer betrayal of trust."

Congress' frustration comes out in open

By attacking their own leader, the Congressmen have shown nothing but their own frustration towards anyone who praises the policies of the ruling party. The Congress leaders in Kerala could not digest the fact that their rival is getting applause for the unique campaigns it has started and one of them is supporting it.

The Congress, it seems, has no other issues and is hence targetting its own men to receive dividends from the party top brass.

Issue based support and criticism is a true democratic culture

Congress men must understand that India is a democracy and not a 'banana republic' and it there's nothing wrong on the part of a politician to admire the steps taken by the government which is in public interest.

The Congressmen should answer a single question, is it not their responsibility to help keep the country neat and clean? If 'yes' then why are they getting jittery about one of them extending support to a government. Is this what the Congress meant by acting as a constructive opposition?

The governments in the past have cut across the party lines and gave special status to the opposition leaders. Former Prime Minister Narsimha Rao had roped two opposition leaders Subramanian Swamy and Atal Bihari Vajpayee to frame his government's economic and foreign policies, respectively. Rao had even given cabinet minister status to opposition leader Subramanian Swamy.

If we look at Tharoor's background, the leader has represented India at international forums like the UN. He has worked as Under-Secretary General at the UN General Assembly and is therefore deft at international politics.

If we look at Tharoor and Modi's relation one will find both are staunch critics of each other. Modi keeping his personal grudges against Tharoor aside and invited him to associate with a unique campaign to make India clean. Tharoor, cutting across personal rivalry, too reciprocated with same vigour. Hence, there was nothing wrong on the part of Tharoor to accept Modi's invitation whom the former has criticised in the past as well.

In a bigger democratic set up, issue based support and criticism is a true democratic culture and by acknowledging PM's invite Tharoor has set an example of a good politician. Hence, by doing this he has not gone against his party, the way some leaders are projecting it.

Also, a PM is the face of country and he should be supported for every good moves and initiatives his government takes. And it is a collective responsibility of every responsible political party to support government's good steps.

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