Thiruvananthapuram: After coming under fire from his party colleagues in his home state for 'praising' Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor has reacted strongly by stating that his fundamental commitment is to India's progress.
Trouble started for Tharoor soon after he responded to Modi's invitation to him to join the Clean India campaign by tweeting he was "honoured to accept the invitation of PM @narendramodi to join Clean India campaign".
Monday dawned with numerous senior Congress leaders, including state Congress chief V.M. Sudheeran, saying that it was unfortunate to see Tharoor falling for the bait of Modi.
State Home Minister and former state party chief Ramesh Chennithala said that Tharoor's statement praising Modi is highly improper and there has been a strong objection to it in the party and among the people of Kerala.
It was MM Hassan, the Congress vice-president and party spokesperson, who first started the direct attack when addressing reporters here Monday he said Tharoor has been praising Modi for a while.
"It's not just the Oct 2nd incident. Tharoor has been praising Modi to the hilt for sometime now. Many Congressmen have still not understood what Modi has done to be praised so much about," said Hassan.
Tharoor, soon after Hassan's comment, responded mildly. But with more and more of his party leaders picking on him, Monday night he came out with a bigger and detailed release which said he was elected as a Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram by people of all faiths and from all walks of life.
"That inclusiveness and pluralism reflect my core beliefs in public life, which are evident from my writings and speeches over the last 30 years. It is painful to hear suggestions that I would relinquish those ideals and join the BJP for power or personal gain."
"I have always appreciated good words or deeds in others even if they are in the opposite camp - and I have, with equal strength, criticised them when they are in the wrong. But I have never diluted my beliefs and principles, which are dearer to me than my life or career."
"My fundamental commitment is to India's progress, and I remain convinced that the Congress Party is the best and most inclusive vehicle to accomplish that progress," said Tharoor.
He added that as a proud Congressman, who is grateful for the support of his fellow party workers, he sees no reason for his party to surrender the noble objective of a Clean India to the BJP, especially when it has been a Congress objective for decades. "Let us honour the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi, whether we agree with anything else the Prime Minister believes, or not."
Tharoor said the sanitation programme was first initiated by the Congress party.
"Congress gave the nation a Rural Sanitation Programme, which in 1999 was changed by the first NDA government to a Total Sanitation Campaign, with equally modest results. The UPA government in 2012 subsumed that into a Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan, with the objective of making the nation Open Defecation Free by 2022," said Tharoor.
His response has come at a time when the state unit of the Congress party is mulling the possibility of approaching the national leadership on this issue.
Tharoor, ever since he won the first time from here in 2009, has remained aloof from the local leadership of the party.
Tharoor won the 2014 polls with a drastically reduced margin which fell from close to a lakh votes in 2009 to under 15,000 votes in 2014.
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Updated Date: Oct 06, 2014 22:32:31 IST