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Democracy in Dilemma: Tharoor Warns BJP’s 2024 Victory

Shashi Tharoor issues a dire proclamation, sounding the alarm bells of impending doom for democracy in the wake of BJP's triumph in the 2024 elections

Shashi Tharoor, the quintessential polymath of our era and a champion of democracy, epitomizes erudition, eloquence, and eminence. His trajectory through life mirrors a tapestry woven with the threads of academic brilliance and diplomatic finesse.

A scion of academia, Tharoor’s scholarly odyssey traversed the hallowed corridors of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, and The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, where he imbibed wisdom from the fonts of knowledge.

His indomitable spirit led him to the corridors of power at the United Nations, where he ascended to the zenith as Under-Secretary-General, leaving an indelible mark on the global stage. From the bustling streets of New York to the serene shores of Geneva, his diplomatic stewardship resonated, transcending borders and ideologies.

In the crucible of Indian politics, Tharoor’s oratory prowess and intellectual acumen find resonance in the hallowed halls of the Lok Sabha, where he represents Thiruvananthapuram with unparalleled fervor and commitment. A torchbearer of progressive ideals and democracy, and staunch advocate of social equity, his voice reverberates, championing causes close to the heart of a billion souls.

Beyond the realm of politics, Tharoor’s literary opus stands as a testament to his literary virtuosity. With each stroke of his pen, he unveils the tapestry of Indian history, politics, and culture, ensnaring readers in a labyrinth of profound contemplation.

Shashi Tharoor, the luminary of our times, embodies the zeitgeist of intellect, diplomacy, and literary finesse, leaving an indelible imprint on the annals of human endeavor.

In the imminent 2024 electoral fray, Shashi Tharoor confronts BJP stalwart Rajeev Chandrasekhar, incumbent Union Minister overseeing Skill Development, Entrepreneurship, and Information Technology. Opposing him stands CPI’s nominee, Pannian Raveendran, vying for the Thiruvananthapuram Lok Sabha seat. Tharoor underscores the overarching battle for India’s democracy, secular, and pluralistic ethos, transcending individual or party affiliations.

In an exclusive discourse with senior journalist Ravindra Ojha, representing The Interview World, Shashi Tharoor, post-casting his ballot on April 26, articulated his firm resolve. He elucidated the paramount objective of thwarting BJP’s divisive agenda, which undermines the very fabric of India’s secular and democratic framework. He warned the BJP’s success would undermine our democracy. Below encapsulates the salient revelations from his insightful conversation.

Q: Are you confident that you have effectively leveraged your expertise to the utmost benefit of your constituency through your past endeavors?

A: In each endeavor, I’ve deftly harnessed my extensive networks within and beyond the corridors of power, drawing from my rich experience in the UN. Through collaborative synergy, I’ve orchestrated triumphant outcomes. Since 2009, I’ve steadfastly pledged to forgo re-election unless tangible impacts were wrought. My thrice re-election underscores the unwavering confidence my constituents vest in my efficacious stewardship.

Q: How did the twin-city project unfold, and do you harbor any regrets about its eventual failure to materialize?

A: In 2009, I championed the creation of a twin-city pact between Barcelona and Thiruvananthapuram. This visionary initiative aimed to forge robust international alliances, leveraging Barcelona’s stellar civic prowess for Thiruvananthapuram’s advancement. Barcelona’s generous budget for global collaboration presented a golden opportunity for Thiruvananthapuram’s growth. As a distinguished port city and esteemed Olympic host, Barcelona possessed unparalleled expertise in vital domains like waste management and urban planning, aligning perfectly with Thiruvananthapuram’s requirements.

Moreover, the potential for educational synergies, research collaborations, and cultural exchanges was simply boundless. Regrettably, despite Barcelona’s enthusiastic endorsement, petty politicking in Thiruvananthapuram thwarted progress. While Barcelona dispatched high-level emissaries, the LDF-led corporation in Thiruvananthapuram failed to reciprocate, stalling discussions and scuppering the noble endeavor. Even after elucidation from relevant authorities, the corporation remained inert, forfeiting a priceless opportunity for monumental gains sans fiscal implications. Ultimately, Barcelona’s resolution lapsed, and subsequent political upheavals cast a shadow over prospects of rejuvenation.

Q: How did the presence of an LDF-ruled corporation in Thiruvananthapuram impact your efforts?

A: The recent debacle surrounding the twin city proposal lays bare the LDF’s proclivity for political pettiness, prioritizing polemics over collaborative progress in Thiruvananthapuram. Negotiating with such a mindset has undeniably proven arduous. Nonetheless, the steadfast dedication of district officials and administration, our stalwart allies in myriad projects, remains unassailable. Their unwavering commitment serves as a formidable bulwark against the tumult of political maneuvering. Together, we navigate the labyrinth of challenges with unwavering resolve, resolutely advancing our collective mission to augment the quality of life for the denizens of Thiruvananthapuram, undeterred by the vicissitudes of political theater.

Q: What strategies do you employ when planning a development or welfare project? Additionally, could you share your vision for the future of Thiruvananthapuram?

A: I envisage a Thiruvananthapuram bedecked with superlative infrastructure, beckoning illustrious educational establishments and investors, nurturing an unparalleled standard of living. Realizing this ambition demands a systematic strategy, yet obstacles endure, particularly with power centralized in conceivably antagonistic city and state administrations. As I resonate with the sagacious words of Sree Narayana Guru, “rashtriyam ethaayallum, rashtram nannayaal mathi” (Regardless of your political leanings, the nation must prosper), it remains uncertain whether our counterparts espouse this grand vision.

Q: What specific qualities do you possess that resonate with the people of the coastal areas, endearing you to them? Moreover, how do you envision leveraging these qualities to enact positive change and improve their livelihoods?

A: During my tenure as the elected representative of Thiruvananthapuram, I have vigorously championed the cause of the fishing community. From the outset, I have relentlessly pressed the government to heed their grievances. Inside and outside the hallowed halls of parliament, I have vociferously articulated their concerns, ensuring they resonate across the nation. The sanctified precincts of parliamentary sessions, including the esteemed Question Hour and Zero Hour, have borne witness to my unyielding advocacy on their behalf. Despite the formidable obstacles, the transformative changes so desperately needed in their lives remain elusive. Yet, undeterred, I persist in my fervent crusade for their upliftment, resolute in my conviction that justice must prevail.

Q: How does it feel to have established the Thiruvananthapuram LS constituency as the ‘Tharoor fortress’ with your three consecutive wins in LS elections? Looking back to your maiden contest in 2009, did you anticipate this level of success? Could you share insights into your evolution as a pragmatic politician over the years?

A: In the intricate tapestry of politics, certainties are scarce commodities. Despite clinching the mandate of the people in three consecutive elections, there’s scant allowance for complacency. Each triumph merely amplifies the imperative for unrelenting commitment to service.

Gratitude is duly accorded to the stalwart support emanating from the citizens of Thiruvananthapuram. Yet, this gratitude isn’t a passive sentiment; it fuels an unyielding resolve for action.

Indeed, the political arena resembles a perpetually oscillating current account, as succinctly observed by an esteemed confidante. Past laurels offer no sanctuary. Instead, the focus remains resolutely on contemporaneous contributions, demanding an incessantly vigilant approach.

Confronting the adversities of the political odyssey is indispensable. Early forays were beset with trials akin to an ‘agni pariksha,’ forging resilience amidst the crucible of challenges. Critiques, albeit trenchant, served as invaluable mirrors for introspection and refinement.

Above all, the sacred duty to those who conferred their trust remains immutable. The electorate’s faith is neither a given nor a fleeting dalliance; it’s a perpetual covenant for unwavering service and enduring progress.

Q: What key issues are you prioritizing in your bid for a record fourth term as MP, and how do you plan to address them to resonate with voters?

A: In my decade and a half of relentless dedication to the constituency, I’ve spearheaded an array of developmental endeavors, deftly maneuvering through crises such as Cyclone Ockhi and the Covid onslaught. Additionally, I’ve pioneered personal initiatives of paramount significance, including the establishment of a UAE Consulate in our city and the allure of global behemoths like Oracle to our esteemed Technopark.

Moreover, I’ve fearlessly espoused bold stances on national imperatives that have profoundly resonated with my constituents. Under the BJP’s hegemony, we’ve witnessed a lamentable erosion of civil liberties and press freedoms, as the party systematically throttles dissent and intimidates adversaries, be they political, journalistic, or humanitarian in nature.

Concurrently, the common man grapples with the harrowing dual menace of burgeoning unemployment and agonizing inflation, exacerbating the already egregious chasm between the haves and the have-nots. Despite the urgency of these pressing predicaments, the BJP adopts a brazen strategy of diversion, seeking to deflect attention from the crux of the matter.

As we approach the imminent electoral conclave, voters confront a watershed moment, a decisive choice between a cohesive, forward-looking India and one riven by the cancerous tendrils of communal discord. I steadfastly advocate for an inclusive vision of our nation’s trajectory, resolutely rejecting the BJP’s divisive dogma encapsulated in the odious triptych of “Hindi, Hindutva, Hindustan.”

Our sagacious electorate acknowledges the gravity of substantive issues such as unemployment, inflation, and communal animus, all of which squarely fall within the ambit of the central government’s stewardship. It is abundantly clear that voting in the national self-interest entails extricating ourselves from the shackles of BJP governance. This clarion call reverberates resoundingly among our discerning voters, underscoring the urgency of our collective resolve to save the democracy.

Q: How do you perceive the Prime Minister’s ambitious target of securing 400 seats, considering the pivotal role states like Kerala and others in the south play? As an MP and a member of the CWC, what are your thoughts on the feasibility of achieving this target, particularly in the southern states?

A: The prevailing political milieu casts a daunting shadow over the BJP’s trajectory. Signals of waning support, underscored by frenzied attempts to rekindle erstwhile alliances, paint a portrait of a party grappling with existential uncertainty. Gestures such as the arbitrary detention of opposition stalwarts and the draconian freezing of financial assets only serve to accentuate the palpable desperation within BJP echelons. Against this backdrop, the notion of Prime Minister Modi clinching a third consecutive term with a resounding 400-seat mandate appears increasingly illusory. PM Modi’s success in 2024 would undoubtedly loom dark cloud on our democracy. In the global fora, India as the mother of democracy will significantly lower its democratic index.

Economic travails loom large, with unprecedented levels of joblessness, plummeting incomes, and skyrocketing inflation throttling the populace. These socioeconomic tribulations are poised to reverberate at the ballot box, potentially dealing a severe blow to the BJP’s electoral calculus. Despite a commanding electoral performance in 2019, prospects for further expansion appear constrained, particularly in bastions where the BJP has traditionally held sway.

Shifting focus to the Southern bastions, the BJP’s recent forays signal a concerted bid to bolster its presence in these hitherto untapped territories. However, glaring lacunae mar the BJP’s substantive contributions to the region. Beyond the veneer of generic national initiatives lies a dismal record of unfulfilled promises and diverted commitments. Despite solemn assurances of critical institutions such as AIIMS and a National University of Ayurveda, tangible progress remains a chimera. The BJP’s egregious failure to deliver on its solemn pledges not only erodes its credibility but also fuels a growing sense of disenchantment among Southern voters.

In essence, the BJP finds itself ensnared in a quagmire of formidable challenges, both on the national stage and within regional strongholds. Economic afflictions and unmet electoral pledges portend a precipitous decline in the party’s political fortunes, casting a shadow of doubt over its capacity to sustain or augment its hegemonic sway.

Q: Has the inclusion of INDIA alliance partners by the Congress in Kerala stirred concerns among Left members, potentially impacting the national battle against the BJP? Is there any friction within the alliance as a result?

A: It’s truly ironic how the Left has taken this stance. In my constituency, their candidate’s primary focus is incessantly attacking me. Yet, I find it rather confounding that they’re willing to fracture the anti-BJP vote in Trivandrum while preaching about alliance solidarity in Wayanad. Nevertheless, there’s no hint of acrimony within the opposition coalition. Unlike the BJP, infamous for its heavy-handed treatment of its partners, we possess the sagacity to coalesce around a common objective post-election: the formation of a non-BJP government. I can assure you that the pro-India anti-BJP forces stand resolute as ever.

Q: What impact do recent developments, such as the departure of allies like the JD(U), solo contests by parties like the TMC in crucial states like West Bengal, delayed candidate announcements by the Congress in Delhi compared to the AAP, and the incarceration of key alliance members like Kejriwal and Hemant Soren, have on the INDIA alliance’s national prospects as elections progress?

A: As reiterated ad infinitum, our foray into this venture was never under the illusion of facile solutions. The notion of a one-size-fits-all panacea is a mirage. Each state, with its unique political ethos and storied past, weaves its intricate tapestry. In Kerala, where the Left and the Congress-led UDF have locked horns for five and a half decades, the prospect of dialogue is but a distant dream.

Contrastingly, in Tamil Nadu, a formidable alliance comprising CPIM, CPI, Congress, Muslim League, and DMK flourishes. Delhi witnesses AAP marching shoulder to shoulder, whereas Punjab takes a divergent path. Such is the kaleidoscope of Indian politics. However, our collective gaze remains steadfastly fixated on the paramount task of reshaping the Union government. This objective binds us in unison, and I can assert with unwavering conviction that we are en route to its realization.

The recent spectacle at Ramlila Maidan serves as a poignant testament to the unyielding fortitude of the INDIA alliance. Despite the BJP resorting to Machiavellian machinations—ranging from financial strangleholds to eleventh-hour apprehensions of key figures, exploiting its fiscal hegemony bolstered by the contentious electoral bonds scheme—the resilience of our coalition stands unshaken. The data lays bare a disconcerting web of corruption, entwining extortion and bribery. Yet, as a unified force, we persevere, infused with vigor and resolute in our commitment to safeguard the democracy and societal fabric of our nation.

Shashi Tharoor Raises the Political Battle for Safeguarding India's Democracy
Shashi Tharoor Raises the Political Battle for Safeguarding India’s Democracy
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