Shashi Tharoor said he had intervened more than 50 times in parliament and had spoken against 17 Bills with courage and conviction.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, August 28, 2019: In the eye of a storm over his pro-Modi remarks, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday said he had never justified Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but was in fact a “strong critic” of the BJP government.
“I have been a strong critic of the Modi Government and I hope a constructive one,” the former union minister said in his e-mail reply to the explanation sought by KPCC President, Mullapally Ramachandran on his alleged “Modi praise.”
Tharoor had earned the wrath of Congress in Kerala with many leaders flaying him for his remarks that Modi should be praised for doing the “right things” following which KPCC had had sought an explanation from him.
Ramachandran in his email to Tharoor, who is abroad, had stated that the Congress stand on Narendra Modi was explained by the party president during the 75th birth anniversary celebrations of Rajiv Gandhi.
“Modi government is a failure in all fields. Even the NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman had said that the country is going through the worst economic crisis since independence.
National Sample Survey Organisation has said the worst unemployment crisis in last 45 years has gripped the country. While the country has been going through such a crisis, justifying the Prime Minister was unfortunate,” the state congress chief said.
In his reply, a defiant Tharoor said he had never sought to “justify Prime Minister Modi” and wanted the KPCC leadership to examine his recent Parliament debates.
The MP wanted Ramachandran to point out one other leader from the state who had made at least ten per cent of Tharoor’s efforts to study, research and oppose Modi government on every bill introduced.
“On the contrary, I would urge you to look at the Parliament debates of the recently-concluded eight-week session of the Lok Sabha and find me one leader from our state who has made 10 per cent of the effort I made to study, research, anticipate and oppose the Modi Government on every bill they sought to introduce against the spirit of our Constitution and the values of the Congress party.”
The Congress leader said he had intervened more than 50 times in parliament and had spoken against 17 Bills with “courage and conviction.”
“Can any of my critics from Kerala say they have done so? Who on earth can credibly accuse me of a ‘volte face’ from the stand I took when I sat alongside you in the last Lok Sabha?” he asked.
“I have used the power of my pen and my credibility as an author to write the most comprehensive, and most successful, critique of the Modi Government’s first term, The Paradoxical Prime Minister.This is not the work of someone who seeks to “justify” Mr Modi in any shape or form,” he said.
The former union minister had been criticised by Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala and three party MPs– K Muraleedharan, Benny Behannan and T N Pratapan for his “Modi praise.”
On the “outcry” against him, Tharoor said it was based on “hysterical reactions to distorted reporting of a single tweet.”
“I issued supporting remarks made by Jairam Ramesh and Abhishekh Singhvi, whose credentials as strong leaders of the party — and official spokesmen of the AICC — both you and I are aware of,” he said.
Tharoor said he had been arguing for the past six years that 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!”
“Modi has done little worth praising. But he has been effective in raising his vote percentage across India from 31 per cent in 2014 to 37 per cent in 2019, and as a party which stayed at around 19 per cent in both elections, we in the Congress need to make an effort to understand why,” he said.
“Clearly enough voters thought he was delivering something for them — we need to acknowledge that, but point out its limitations: yes, he built toilets, but 60 per cent of them don’t have running water; yes, he gave poor rural women gas cylinders, but 92 per cent of them can’t afford refills.
But if we act as if he has done nothing, however flawed, and people still voted for him, then we are saying that people are stupid, which is not a position that wins you votes,” Tharoor said in his reply.
He also urged the leadership to take necessary steps to bring Congress back to power and said for that the party needs to address what has attracted the voters to Modi.
Tharoor also thanked the ordinary congress workers and volunteers in Kerala and throughout the country who have stood by him through “all this mindless controversy.”
“…they know my intentions are pure, that I speak with the best interests of the Congress at heart, and they can see through the motives of some who seek to misrepresent and demonise me,” he added.