Hon. Sonia Ji:
It is with sadness that I write this letter as we watch several stalwarts who labored for the Congress party over the years say goodbye. The 2024 national elections are fast approaching. The Congress party has a monumental task ahead if we are to stand any chance against the Modi juggernaut.
Since Mr. Rahul Gandhi has resolved not to run for any party post, I make the following case below. Without allocating blame against anyone for the current fiasco, let me state that INC can redeem itself in the nation’s eye while giving a fresh start if we select/elect someone of a great stature who can make an immediate impact. That person is none other than Dr. Shashi Tharoor. Anyone else selected from the inner circle will have minimum impact and will be perceived only as an underling of the current system of governance. The Congress party can ill-afford to keep losing the perception battle.
Why should Shashi Tharoor be a candidate for the president of the AICC?
First and foremost, the road to Delhi for the next non-BJP Government runs through South India. The Hindi belt is irretrievably lost for now and will take decades of work to rebuild. Therefore, selecting a leader like Mr. Shashi Tharoor from the South will only be advantageous in coalescing other reluctant leaders of the regional parties in the South and the East to join the fray.
Mr. Shashi Tharoor is considered by many to be a dynamic leader with scholarship, charisma, a pan-Indian appeal, and the wisdom to lead the party from the current doldrums. Shashi is a true admirer of Jawaharlal Nehru and a great proponent of the Nehruvian vision for India. He is a great advocate of secularism and argues strongly for a pluralistic India as a foundational philosophy for the society-at-large. He is known as a thinker in the Nehruvian mode and has authored several books and written extensively through articles and columns in several countries.
He is a master communicator who speaks several languages, including Hindi and Bengali, other than his native tongue Malayalam. His linguistic skillset in English is quite unrivaled. He is known to speak French as well. His oratorical skills are unmatched by very few, even in the international arena; his speech at Oxford stands out as a masterpiece. His debating skills and way with words are pretty evident across the visual and social media worldwide and will give any opponent a run for the money.
He has proved himself a great parliamentarian willing to do the research necessary to debunk many of the Government's assertions. His learning skills are spectacular, and his speeches at the Lok Sabha reflect how well he analyzes data and disseminates the information for easy consumption by the public. No wonder he has won three times from a parliament seat in Kerala that the CPM could have easily captured.
We all know that he is someone who has run for the office of the Secretary-General of the United Nations and has a wealth of knowledge and experience in world affairs with friendship with several world leaders who are his peers. He possesses strong leadership skills as he has administered the international peacekeeping operation under Secretary- General Kofi Annan and was the head of the Department of Public Information for the United Nations before leaving the U.N.
He is considered a mass leader who would attract a crowd anywhere he appears. The great demand for his participation during campaigns across India clearly indicates his mass appeal. His possible appointment will motivate millions of young people to take a fresh look at the Congress party and may sway others who were estranged during the last decade.
He is a 24×7 workaholic with the willpower to outwork any opponent or adversary toward achieving goals. He appears to be willing to delegate and is not at all defensive about issues as regards public policies. He relates well to people with diverse backgrounds in society and is empathetic to the plight of the poor and disadvantaged.
He maintains excellent relationships with all religious groups and heads of religious organizations and firmly believes that a secular India is not hostile to any religion. Although religion is no bar to holding the title, he considers himself a proud Hindu while rejecting the exclusive Hindutva philosophy promoted by ultra-nationalists and Hindu fundamentalists.
Finally, he is considered a man of integrity and honor who has served his constituency with ultimate dedication with a proven track record of an impressive body of work with a long-lasting impact on the lives of the common citizen. He has the maturity, knowledge, and skillset to lead the Congress party to a new horizon. It will also forever put to rest the dynasty and nepotism issue BJP is counting on exploiting to garner votes.
Yours and Rahul Ji's support is crucial in this regard, and Mr. Tharoor can never shadow your position and influence in the party, but rather it would be complementary. Mr. Tharoor, by nature, is a trust-worthy individual who has spoken of the deep respect he has for you, has defended Mr. Gandhi on several occasions, and believes in the dream of your husband, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and his dream of “an India, strong, self-reliant and in the front ranks of the nations of the world.”
This dream is systematically being demolished by those in the sitting Government with a reckless disregard for the sacrifices of not just our founding fathers but also Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was the last of the foundation layers of modern India.
After speaking with many people both in India and abroad and gathering their personal views, I am writing to share a nation’s hopes, aspirations, and pulse at a precipice. Congress must lead the way forward out of the deep abyss the country is sliding into near destruction of our most cherished democratic principles.
I personally beseech you, on behalf of a nation under siege, to consider Mr. Shashi Tharoor as a candidate for the position of the Presidency of the AICC and urge, guide, and lead the Congress party to support Mr. Tharoor. Time is of the most critical essence. The Congress party must be audible and visible in the nation’s mind for all the right reasons. The news media are now abuzz with what they describe as a dysfunctional’; party that learns no lessons. Mr. Tharoor becoming President of AICC will start to turn the tide of perception in favor of the Congress party.
Mr. Tharoor is Gandhian in principle, Nehruvian in vision, Patel-esque in will, and all of these traits will endear him to the masses, the daughters of India, the young, the aspiring, the creative, the captains of industry, and the reasonable thinkers who are aghast at the demolition of our hard-fought democratic, secular republic.
We must do all we can to strengthen the Congress party so that it presents a formidable alternative before the 2024 elections. Congress will not survive another loss. And India will change its face as we know it. Congress must lead the way. Mr. Tharoor’s Presidency of the AICC will be a step in that direction. India is pining. India is waiting. If not now, then when? If not Congress, then who?
George Abraham, Vice-Chair- Indian Overseas Congress, USA