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Shashi Tharoor hails Rahul Gandhi as ‘Man of the Match’ in Lok Sabha polls, advocates for leader of opposition role | India News – Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor lauded Rahul Gandhi as the “man of the match” in the recent Lok Sabha elections, advocating for him to assume the role of Leader of Opposition in the House.
Speaking to media, Tharoor emphasized the electorate’s message as a rebuke to the BJP’s perceived arrogance and unilateral governance style. He said the message of the mandate was that the electorate have given a “comeuppance” to the BJP’s “overweening arrogance” and its “my way or the high way attitude”.
“It will be a challenge for Mr (Narendra) Modi and Amit Shah who have not been used to consulting very much in running their government and I think this is going to test their ability to change their way of functioning and be more accommodative and more conciliatory within the government and also I hope with the opposition,” Tharoor said on the incoming coalition government of the NDA.
The former Union minister predicted a potentially “helpless government” as the NDA coalition will require unanimous agreement on policies. He cited internal dissent on issues like the Agniveer scheme and demands for special status by leaders in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, indicating a shift towards more consensual governance.
“Already we have questions being raised by one party on the Agniveer scheme, saying that it needs to be reviewed and they have been supported by a second party namely the JD(U) and Chirag Paswan. Both in Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, there are leaders who have demanded special category status for their states which the BJP government had hitherto refused to grant, that will have to be re-examined,” he said.
Tharoor criticized the Modi administration’s past approach to Parliament, describing it as treating the institution like a “notice board” and expecting it to rubber-stamp decisions. With a robust opposition comprising over 230 MPs, he asserted that such an approach is no longer viable.
Championing Rahul Gandhi for the Leader of Opposition position, Tharoor praised Gandhi’s extensive campaign efforts alongside Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge. “It would only be fitting that Rahul Gandhi leads the Opposition in the Lok Sabha,” Tharoor stated, underscoring Gandhi’s popularity and effectiveness.
“He and Congress president (Mallikarjun) Kharge campaigned extensively throughout the country, but Mr Kharge is in the Rajya Sabha where he leads the Opposition and it would only be fitting that Rahul Gandhi does the same in the Lok Sabha. I have certainly conveyed my view both publicly and privately in that regard,” Tharoor said.
“I think we have a strong number now to stand up to the government and it (Leader of Opposition) should be a leader who is undoubtedly the most popular in the party,” he said, referring to Gandhi.
Using cricket analogies, Tharoor likened Gandhi’s performance to a star player, saying Congress “hit the ball out of the park” in many areas despite challenging conditions. He acknowledged the tough competition in his constituency of Thiruvananthapuram, where he narrowly defeated Union minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar by over 16,077 votes.
Reflecting on the 2024 mandate, Tharoor asserted that Indian voters have sent a clear message against taking democracy for granted, referencing past government actions like demonetization and abrupt lockdowns. He emphasized the need for coalition governance and consultation to ensure the government’s survival.
Using cricketing analogies, Tharoor further said Gandhi was “unquestionably, indeed the man of the match” of the polls and in a number of places the Congress “hit the ball out of the park”.
“In some places we had a tight finish. In my case there was a super over at the end of the T20 in my constituency. Lot of cricketing analogies all over the place but as we are seeing in the World T20, there are some concerns about the pitch we had to bat on and I would say that we had no choice but to play on the pitch we were given but it could certainly have been a far more level playing field than it was,” he said.
In Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor beat Union Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar by over 16,077 votes.
Asked about the close fight and if the Left made it difficult for him, Tharoor said the CPI candidate Pannyan Raveendran took two and a half lakh votes.
“But the other is the three areas that are represented by the CPI(M), the CPI candidate came last and the BJP candidate came first. There are some legitimate questions being asked as to how exactly and why exactly that happened. But you know at the end of the day, a victory is a victory and we are savouring it as sweet,” Tharoor told PTI.
Talking about the message of the 2024 mandate, Tharoor said the message is very clearly that the Indian voter will not allow democracy to be taken for granted in this way.
“We’ve seen everything from the demonetisation, that was declared without the cabinet even been consulted or informed, to the stringent lockdown that came with a few hours’ notice, with not even the state chief ministers consulted. All of which suggest to me that we are looking at an end to a kind of autocratic rule that had brought discredit to our democracy, not just at home but internationally,” Tharoor said, adding that is the biggest take away.
The government is now a coalition and the prime minister will have to consult alliance partners before major decisions, failing which the government may not survive, the Congress leader said.
Hailing the gains made by the Congress that improved its tally to 99 in the Lok Sabha, Tharoor said it was a very good performance and the leaders were very pleased that the numbers showed up according to “what we saw on the ground”.
“As for what we can improve, there is always room for improvement. Certainly we did not expect to lose every seat in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh. Those are areas where there would need to be certain introspection within those state units as to what went wrong and headquarters will have to weigh-in as well,” he said.
“On the other hand, we have done well in most other places and if you look at the number of states we have improved our performance, we have vastly outstripped the number of states we remained stagnant in or we’ve gone down,” he said.
Tharoor also credited Gandhi’s two Bharat Jodo Yatras and its alliance strategies for the party’s performance.
(With inputs from agencies)





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