» Election » Tharoor faces stiff competition from political heavyweights

Tharoor faces stiff competition from political heavyweights

By Arun Lakshman in Thiruvananthapuram
March 25, 2009 19:18 IST
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Former United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information Shashi Tharoor, who is contesting from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency as a Congress candidate in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls, will face stiff opposition in a multi cornered fight.

The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded the state president of the party P K Krishnadas while the ruling Left Democratic Front has fielded the district secretary of the Communist Party of India, the Bahujan Samaj Party is represented by former minister Neelalohithadasan Nadar and the Nationalist Congress Party has fielded former minister M P Gangadharan.

To make matters worse for the Congress-led United Democratic Front, reports suggest that Vijayan Thomas, chairman of the party's channel Jai Hind, is contesting as an independent candidate after he was denied the Thiruvananthapuram ticket.

However, Congress leaders dismissed the reports, claiming that Vijayan Thomas didn't have a support base to fight the elections. When queried as to why the chairman of the party channel was fighting as an independent, a senior Congress leader said. "He will withdraw from the contest soon".

The voter base in Thiruvananthapuram comprises of government employees and the elite Nair community, while the Nadar community also has a sizeable population.

The former UN diplomat, who has already faced considerable flak for being an 'outsider' is also drawing criticism about his accented Malayalam and his 'high-profile personality'.

Both the BJP and the CPI have already made this an election issue, focusing on the non-availability of such a high-profile candidate. Tharoor has responded to these charges by stating that what matters was the work he did for Thiruvananthapuram.

Congress leaders are also hinting at the possibility of Tharoor being made the external affairs minister in case the United Progressive Alliance comes back to power at the Centre, in an attempt to woo the carrier-oriented, middle class electorate in the city.

The BJP is also highlighting the fact that Tharoor had criticised Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi ,Sanjay Gandhi and even Indira Gandhi in his book Midnight to millennium. With translated versions of the book, the party is trying to portray Tharoor as a man with no convictions.

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Arun Lakshman in Thiruvananthapuram