Shashi Tharoor declines CPIM’s seminar invite after Sonia Gandhi's message
New Delhi, Mar 21: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday said he has declined to attend a CPI(M) seminar in Kerala after discussing the issue with AICC president Sonia Gandhi, "respecting her views on the matter".
The Left party had invited Thiruvananthapuram MP, Tharoor, and former Union minister Thomas to attend seminars ahead of its 23rd Party Congress scheduled to be held at Kannur in the state from April 6-10.
Seemingly upset over criticism directed at him by some state Congress leaders, Tharoor said a similar invitation was extended a month ago for a seminar on the sidelines of the CPI(M) State Party Conference and on that occasion also, he consulted the AICC president and a suitable decision was taken without any media controversy.
"A similar procedure could easily have been followed this time also. I regret that some preferred the unseemly public airing of internal differences, thereby creating a needless controversy in a matter in which AICC's view was binding. I hope wisdom will prevail in future," he said in a statement.
Tharoor said he has discussed with the AICC president, the matter of his participation in the seminar on Centre-state relations on the sidelines of the CPI(M) National Party Congress.
"I had welcomed the invitation on the following grounds - The event is a national one and the highest forum of the CPI(M), organised by its Central Committee, and formulates its national policy. Nationally we have a cooperative relationship with the CPI(M); The topic for the seminar does not involve any matter of sensitivity in Kerala but is on 'Centre-state relations', where there is no real difference of opinion between our parties; The event sets a fine example of intellectual exchange on policy issues among 'anti-BJP opposition parties', which should in principle be encouraged," he said.
"I respect her views on this matter and have conveyed to the organizers my inability to participate," Tharoor added.
The Lok Sabha MP said broader questions of the Congress' relations with the CPI(M) at the national level, the specific topic of Centre-state relations, and the manner in which invitations from other political parties should be handled, remain to be addressed separately.
Congress' Kerala unit President K Sudhakaran has said the party had barred its leaders from attending the programme as it was strongly fighting the CPI(M)-led government over the proposed K-Rail project.
However, Tharoor had told the media that the topic of the seminar, to which he was invited, was not related to any issues pertaining to Kerala or K-Rail.
"The people do not like Congress leaders participating in the programme organised by the CPI(M). The Congress party members despise, loathe such leaders who associate with (Chief Minister) Pinarayi Vijayan, who is moving forward with the K-Rail project. If he (Tharoor) wants to participate, he can. It's his wish. He can take the permission of Sonia Gandhi and do accordingly," Sudhakaran said.