Published: 29th July 2020
Shashi Tharoor on INC crisis: Congress needs to energise itself with young people, creative ideas and institutional reforms
In a candid conversation, Shashi Tharoor spoke about where the government went wrong while dealing with COVID and what the INC needs to revive itself from its current quandary
There isn't a need to reinvent the Grand Old Party. What is needed is a revival, which should be based on a reaffirmation of what the party stands for, said Shashi Tharoor, INC MP. "We should energise the party organisation in places where it is atrophied and that requires young people by definition. We need clear and decisive leadership at all levels and, at the same time, have to bring in fresh faces, creative ideas and some institutional reforms," he said. Shashi Tharoor was in conversation with Citizenship for Public Leadership's founder (CPL) Prateek Kanwal in a webcast on July 29, addressing students and youth.
Speaking about the recent departure of 'youngsters' like former Rajasthan Dy CM Sachin Pilot from the party and what youngsters looking forward to joining the Congress expect, Tharoor, who heads the Professional Congress, said, "I have always relied on young people. It would be glib to derive sweeping conclusions from the departure and disenchantment of a couple of high-profile leaders, which are individual cases, where factors relevant only to their particular circumstances may have been dominant. The media has been too quick to see this as a sign of a pandemic of disenchantment sweeping the party from the young people. That is not the case. But I will agree that we need to promote more collegiality and consultation." Tharoor also spoke about his fondness for youngsters and how that is reflected in the average age of his staff, which, he said, never surpasses 25. "I'm in favour of giving young people more opportunity and I have demonstrated that in my own office. I don't see why the party can't demonstrate it," he added.
Turning his attention to COVID, Tharoor said the health crisis could have been prevented in its worst aspects. "Whereas other countries could strike a balance with their lockdowns and economic growth impetus, we still seem to be learning on the run. Now, the Central government has let the State government make decisions but that's a little late in the day. They have responded very unevenly and in some cases more adequately than others," said Tharoor.
Answering a question about what the Indian National Congress would have done differently if in power, Tharoor said, "Rahul Gandhi had called for a lockdown on February 12 on all international travel to India. It wasn't domestic at that point and cases were only coming in from abroad. Had we shut all our airports back then, we could have prevented the virus coming in at all. We could have treated those people who came from abroad and their contacts. But since the lockdown came late, it was no longer enough at that point. There was also a complete lack of planning. We would have had an early lockdown, not interrupted normal Indian activity except international travel and we would have been more alert to any cases that were being reported. The government did it later - set up a large number of testing labs. The government claims that it has set up 1,300 testing labs. But if this could have been done earlier, while international travel was shut then we could have isolated any case that emerged."