An online petition has recently been filed asking for Shashi Tharoor to be made the prime ministerial candidate from Congress, and it already has 8400 signatures. The petition has been filed by a resident of Thiruvananthpuram, Tharoor's Lok Sabha seat. The petition reads, “Shashi Tharoor is a man well qualified with deep knowledge of international and national issues, who can connect with the people of India and with world leaders.”
In a country where politicians often resort to name-calling and blame-shifting, where mikes in the parliament have been flung over each other during an argument, where party leaders have justified rape as little mistakes men make, Shashi Tharoor is a politician with a difference.
A former diplomat, former minister of state for external affairs, and a best-selling author, Shashi Tharoor wears many hats. The well-read politician known for voicing his progressive opinions is a breath of fresh air in Indian politics. Having worked at the UN in various positions, Tharoor is one of India’s more liberal politicians.
Recently in news for having spoken against Britain's ‘historical amnesia’ of the colonial acquisition of India, Tharoor is known to say things most politicians would shy from. In 2014, he found himself at the receiving end of hostility from his own party after he praised PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. Praising an opponent is never a thing in Indian politics where parties thrive on mud-slinging and nitpicking, and Tharoor faced the music when he was removed as the official spokesperson of Congress. Lesson learnt in Indian diplomacy.
An Arts graduate in history from St. Stephen’s College, Tharoor excelled in academics. He published his first work of fiction at the age of 10. An exceptionally bright student at The Fletcher School Of Law and Diplomacy, Tuffts University, he completed his PhD at the young age of 22 after completing his MA and MALD (Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy).
In his 27-year career at the UN, Tharoor held some key positions as a diplomat and later, as Under-Secretary General to the then-Secretary-General Kofi Annan. He was nominated as India’s candidate for the post of Secretary-General of the UN but lost to Ban Ki-Moon in the selections in 2006, thanks to the US and China.
Outspoken and modern in outlook, Tharoor has often been at the receiving end of controversy in a country where sentiments are hurt too often and loyalties are questioned easily. Some have called Shashi Tharoor a misfit in the Indian ‘babu’ way of things while some have called him too sophisticated for Indian politics.
Leadership across the world has not depended on educational credentials or diplomatic history, and you need way more to survive in politics. But in a world where racism is propagated by a world leader, communalism encouraged by a ruling party, and blatant sexism practised by almost every other politician – we need leaders who are progressive and well-educated individuals with a balanced head on their shoulders, even if it’s in the Opposition.
With Rahul Gandhi at the helm of affairs, things are not looking too good for Congress and the party is in dire need of an overhaul of strategy and internal management. The Gandhi Scion has had a history of foot-in-mouth moments and is clearly not a veteran in politics. In this scenario, Tharoor doesn’t seem too bad an option for heading the party. While heading a country is too huge a role and requires years of political experience, and will probably be too overwhelming for Tharoor at this point, we’d surely like to see more of him in Indian politics.