Shashi Tharoor, who was among the 23 Congress leaders who wrote to Sonia Gandhi calling for sweeping changes in the party and a “full-time, effective and active leadership”, has been derided as a “guest artist” by a top leader of the Congress in Kerala.
But Kodikkunnil Suresh, the Chief Whip of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, has now retracted the remarks he made in the morning.
“Shashi Tharoor is certainly not a politician. He came to the Congress party as a guest artist. He is still continuing in the party like a guest artist,” Mr Suresh, also a Congress MP, had said.
In the widely reported remarks, the former union minister also said: “Tharoor may be a global citizen, but he should not think that he can take any decision or say anything according to his will. Ultimately, he should follow the party.”
Mr Suresh later claimed he had called the media and retracted his comments on Mr Tharoor, saying he had missed his tweet.
On Thursday, Mr Tharoor tweeted that it was everyone’s duty to work together in the interest of the Congress after party chief Sonia Gandhi had said the matter is “behind us”.
“I’ve been silent for 4 days on recent events in @INCIndia because once the Congress President says the issue is behind us, it is the duty of all of us to work together constructively in the interests of the Party,” the Congress’s Thiruvananthapuram MP tweeted. He added: “I urge all my colleagues to uphold this principle and end the debate.”
Mr Suresh told NDTV: “I have withdrawn my statement. I had not seen Shashi Tharoor’s last night statement talking about working for the unity in the party. With that, everything is over.”
The letter-writers have been facing criticism and demands for disciplinary action against them ever since the contents of the explosive letter, seen to be a critique of the Gandhi family’s leadership style, emerged on the weekend. At a top party meeting in Delhi, they were roundly attacked by leaders for “betraying” the Congress and since then, they have been largely isolated with no signs on the ground of a promised reconciliation.
Mr Tharoor has reportedly also provoked the anger of his colleagues in Kerala by openly supporting the central government’s move to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport for 50 years to Adani Enterprises.