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Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Shashi Tharoor, often found on the better end of his English vocabulary, had made the news again! Albeit this time for an article he wrote in the Malayalam daily Mathrubhumi, seeking 'fair and free elections ahead of the Congress party president elections scheduled to be held on 17 October. 

The grand old party will see a democratic election for the post of a president for the first time in two decades. Notably, Tharoor was also part of the letter that went to Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi from the G-23 leaders seeking a fresh approach of the party. 

While Tharoor's article and several reports have suggested that he may after all consider contesting the elections, let's take a look at the career of this Twitter favourite MP from Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. 

Shashi Tharoor- Career

The Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram is an alumnus of the prestigious St. Stephen's College Delhi. He is also the youngest recipient of a Doctorate degree from in International Relations and Affairs from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. 

Following his academic pursuit, Tharoor worked with the United Nations from1978 to 2007. He announced his retirement after finishing second in the 2006 selection for U.N. Secretary-General to Ban Ki-moon.

A strong understanding of international relations and politics does give Tharoor an edge over others. 

Shashi Tharoor- The Congress MP

Tharoor joined Congress in 2009 and successfully contested elections winning the Thiruvananthapuram seat in Kerala. Under the UPA-led government, Tharoor has served as the Minister of State for External Affairs (2009–2010) and Minister of Human Resource Development (2012–2014).

Shashi Tharoor and Article 377

Shashi Tharoor's efforts to amend Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code were voted out by the majority of parliamentarians on two occasions. The Supreme Court of India later ruled in favor of amending the controversial article in 2018, thereby vindicating the position advocated by Tharoor. 

The scrapping of the Article 377 was a landmark decision in the Indian history, which decriminalised and in turn legalised giving recognition to the existence of the queer community including homosexuals, pansexual, bisexual and others. 

Shashi Tharoor- Controversies

Tharoor has had several run-in with controversies. 

-Tharoor was a pioneer in using social media as an instrument of political interaction. He was India's most-followed politician on Twitter until 2013, when he was overtaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Some of his Twitter posts have proved controversial in the past and were highlighted negatively by the opposition and press.

-In April 2010, he resigned as the union minister, following allegations that he had misused his office to get shares in the IPL cricket franchise. Tharoor denied the charges and, during his resignation speech in Parliament, called for a full inquiry. 

In a 2014 rejoinder he defended his position: "I was brought down because...[I had] antagonised some powerful political cricketing interests".

-Tharoor was also suspected to have been responsible for the death of his second wife Sunanda Pushkar. The latter was found dead in a hotel room in New Delhi, a day after series of intimate messages expressing love, supposedly sent by the Pakistani journalist Mehr Tarar to Tharoor, were posted on Tharoor's Twitter account.

In May 2018, Tharoor was charged with abetment to suicide of his wife and marital cruelty under sections 306 and 498A of the Indian Penal Code. However Tharoor refuted all the charges. On 18 August 2021, Special Court in Delhi discharged Shashi Tharoor from all charges for Pushkar's death.

Congress President election

The Congress MP neither accepted, nor declined when reporters asked him if he will contest the polls set to take place after 21 years. Tharoor said ‘an election would be a good thing for the Congress party’. 

"I hope that several candidates come forward to present themselves for consideration. Putting forward their visions for the party and the nation will surely stir public interest," he wrote.

While the party as a whole is in need of renewal, the most urgent leadership position that needs to be filled is naturally that of the Congress president, Tharoor said.

Shashi Tharoor for Congress president?

Political pundits are of the opinion that Tharoor's association with the G-23 leaders might handicap his chances of  becoming the Congress President. However, the politician reportedly also believes that Congress gives the democratic space for a contest.

Further, Tharoor has been vocal about his belief that the model of AICC appointing general secretaries and in-charges for states can also be done away with. Instead, the general secretaries can work on ideas and themes.

Tharoor, who joined the Congress party in 2009, ‘carries little baggage’ those close to him believe. Will that affect the politician's chances of helming the grand old party, till date led by the Gandhis?

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