K Sudhakaran, Kerala Congress,

On Sonia's advice, Tharoor decides not to attend CPI(M) meet

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Senior Congress leader and MP Shashi Tharoor declined an invitation of the CPI(M) to attend a seminar after a meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

“I respect Sonia’s opinion on the issue and have conveyed to the organisers my inability to participate,” the MP said after controversy erupted over the invite.

Tharoor and another senior leader KV Thomas were invited by CPI(M) to participate in the seminars, which is part of the usual practice of incorporating national leaders of other parties (except the BJP). Thomas was invited to speak on challenges in secularism on April 7, and Tharoor on the current situation of federalism in India on April 8.

KPCC President K Sudhakaran objected to the move, saying Congress leaders should not rub shoulders with CPI(M) leaders.

Sudhakaran said that there was nothing “more shameful than Tharoor or Thomas participating in CPIM seminars” being held at Kannur, his own battleground of political rivalry with the CPI(M).

However, just when things were about to get ugly, Shashi Tharoor issued a clarification.

Kannur has a long and bloody history of fierce rivalry between the Congress and the CPI(M), and Sudhakaran is considered by party members as “the unquestioned leader of the Congress, who managed to deal with the challenges raised by CPI(M)”.

What’s wrong, asks Thomas

Earlier, Thomas, however, said there was ‘nothing wrong’ in participating in the CPI(M) seminar. “I personally do not find any problem in participating in the seminar. It does not mean that we are supporting CPI(M)’s political stands. We will go there and say what we want to say. Besides, I think it is important to have such political debates with opposition parties in the current context,” he said.

Thomas has been unhappy with the state leaders for a long time, since he was denied tickets to the last Lok Sabha election. According to sources, he was expecting a Rajya Sabha seat, which also was denied.

Tharoor also holds the view that there is nothing wrong with engaging in political dialogues.

“It is a national event and there is nothing wrong in participating in debates related to national issues,” he said.

Stalin to participate, too

Tharoor also said that he is not aware of any ban from the Kerala unit of his party. He has been invited for a session on federalism, in which Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin will also participate.

However, Tharoor maintained the position that the final decision has to be taken by the party high command. He said that he would only follow whatever decision is taken by the AICC Leadership.

AICC General Secretary Tariq Anwar told the media that the Congress would take “appropriate decision” after discussions with other Congress leaders from Kerala.

Sudhakaran is very adamant that no Congress leaders should accept the invitation and go to the venue. He told the media that “specific instructions” have been given to all leaders, including MPs. “If anyone violates the instructions  and participates in the event, they would face disciplinary action,” he said.

According to the organisers of the party meet, the date of the seminar was fixed per Tharoor’s convenience.

“We invited him to participate in the seminar on secularism on April 7, but the date was not convenient for him. He said that he would be fine with a later date. Hence, we invited him for the seminar on Centre-state relationship which will be held on April 8,” said Shashi, the News Editor of the daily Deshabhimani, who is a part of the organising committee.

INTUC leader R Chandrasekharan, who reached Payyannur at Kannur on March 19 to participate in the seminar on ‘Labour rights and trade unions’, returned without attending the programme.

Also read: Can a belligerent Sudhakaran revive Cong in Kerala? Knives are already out

According to sources, Sudhakaran personally called Chandrasekharan and advised him to return. The latter apologised to the organisers and went back without attending the programme.

Former MP MK Raghavan, who was scheduled to participate in the seminar on March 21, also did not turn up.

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