‘Cong’s Social Media is Witty While BJP’s is Jingoistic’: Tharoor
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Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is confident of winning the seat in Thiruvananthapuram this 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Thiruvananthapuram will see a three-cornered contest between Congress’ Shashi Tharoor, BJP veteran leader Kummanam Rajasekharan and CPI(M)-headed LDF nominee and sitting MLA, C Divakaran.
Tharoor has been visiting every street in his constituency reaching out to people and assuring welfare schemes and development. The Quint caught up with the leader to find out how ready he is for the poll battle.
When quizzed about Rahul Gandhi’s decision to stand from Wayanad in Kerala, Tharoor said it gave a strong message that the national party is confident of winning support from the south of the country as well.
Here's what the Congress MP said:
The fight in Thiruvananthapuram seems to be a close contest. How will you define the mood on the ground?
You can see it from the reactions of the people. This is obviously a bad time because it is the peak of the afternoon. Come in the evening and you’ll see the exhilaration, excitement, the smiles, the waves, the handshakes. It is terrific. There is a lot of enthusiasm out there. Even though it is a three-cornered contest, I will not just win but with a larger majority than last time.
Now, Rahul Gandhi has decided to contest from Wayanad in Kerala. Do you think this will help reenergise the Congress in the South?
Everywhere. In fact, Kerala, certainly, will contribute to 2020. The prospect of having the next prime minister as an MP from Kerala and in the neighbouring states to Wayanad – because Wayanad borders both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka – there is genuine excitement [regarding it] as well. So, I think this is a win-win decision. It also sends a very interesting signal that a would-be prime minister of the country should be electable in both North India and South.
Another big problem now is the increasing hatred, trolls and fake news going around. As [part of the] the Congress party, as Shashi Tharoor, what have you done to stop this dangerous culture?
We don’t do this. And I am totally opposed to anyone doing it. I’ve been a victim of this in my own constituency, where my opponents are deliberately peddling fake news about me on WhatsApp. Putting words in my mouth I’ve never said. Accusing me of sins I’ve never committed. But that’s, unfortunately, the way in which people’s minds are being messed with. I think it’s terrible, ought to be stopped. It really ought to be abolished. I am all for very stringent measures to stop this kind of practice.
What’s your promise to the people of Thiruvananthapuram?
First of all, to continue to make their voice heard on a national and international stage as I have done for 10 years. Second, to complete the ongoing projects that I have initiated: the Vizhinjam port, the national highway bypass and a number of ongoing developments, like the medical institute. Plus, to bring in new developments that were not foreseen earlier .I have some ideas that I intend to pursue if elected. One needs a platform of being an MP to do that. But, ultimately, to be also a safe pair of hands who represents the interests of the constituency whenever needed.
We do know how important online campaigning is and you have been quite active on Twitter and other social media platforms. Do you think the Congress is up to the mark when it comes to this race?
I think now it is. I agree with you that as a party, they were quite slow to get on the mark. I was a bit on my own. Indeed, the party tried to keep me at a distance in those days from social media because of all the controversies I was being dragged into
because of my social media presence. But today, not only have we done [it] as well as the others, [but also] arguably better than the others. Our social media is smart, funny, active. It’s most often retweeted by the Opposition. With a strident nationalism of the BJP with its militarism, jingoism, chauvinism and hatred [it] doesn’t sell as well as the Congress’ humane, relaxed, witty, funny messaging which, I believe, most people seem to like a lot.