The Shashi Influence: A Political Renaissance


The name Shashi translates into “Moon” in Sanskrit, but unfortunately the term has been undergoing a derogatory transition in the recent past. Malayalee readers can perfectly relate to this as in the last decade or so, this word has been increasingly used to denote a person with a lack of wit in Kerala. However, over the last month the name is regaining its shine like a full moon’s lustre due to the efforts of one man – Dr Shashi Tharoor. Ironically, he is slowly but surely creating an impression that the people who wrote him off may end up being worthy of the “Shashi” tag.

Dr Tharoor entered as a candidate for the election of the All-India Congress Committee president as an underdog. In fact, prior to his entry even the most ardent fans and members of Congress party would have silently accepted that the election is nothing but a staged farce to put another Gandhi stooge in the revered position while the Gandhis could absolve themselves of being autocratic in the process.  The days that followed his entry also drew judgements regarding his intelligence and political aptitude. Many even commented it as a political suicide since the result is inevitable – he will lose and possibly be denied of future election tickets.

As the days are passing, the Shashi factor is beginning to make its mark. From being an insignificant yet necessary item to report of, the Congress Presidential election has become the main topic for prime-time debates and headline news. Social media trends are also catching up. Why? The answer is simple… Dr Tharoor showcased how elegantly an election can be contested which many thought was an absolute impossibility for an in-party election in India and particularly within the Congress Party. To list a few of the laudable initiatives he commenced:

  • A clear manifesto with emphasis on focusing on young blood and creating an organizational review system comparable to the corporate world
  • Campaign for decentralization and empowerment of the PCCs while limiting the role of “High Command” with a clearly defined criterion
  • A well thought out communication strategy execution with a particularly attractive tag line – “Think Tharoor, Think Tomorrow”
  • Absolute refrain from mudslinging or negative remarks or the petty politics we are all used to

There is no doubt Shashi has been able to yield an impact on Indians who have been yearning for a matured democracy where discourse, debates and performance will determine the fate of an election vis a vis number of physical or verbal atrocities against an opponent. The way the senior congress leaders of Kerala are opposing him is a testament to the perception that Shashi, if successful, will be the renaissance of the “old ways of deciding merit of a candidate”. I don’t think I need to elaborate further on the ways.

Having mentioned all the above, he most probably would still end up on the losing corner; but what he has initiated is a path and direction that hopefully many more will adopt. Coming to his personal prospects, even if he loses, I believe his political mileage will only compound keeping in mind that he has already attained the status of a National Leader. His loss will be considered by majority as India’s loss. Although the BJP is growing in strength each day, patriots even from the BJP will agree a strong opposition is the need of the hour and the Shashi factor could have been the panacea. Currently, the ruling party has been slowly removing all opposition representation from its key committees like IT and defence. I am guessing most of you are now thinking all this is pure conjecture and nothing is going to change. To them I quote Jose Prakash’s dialogue from the Malayalam movie Traffic that can be loosely translated in this context as “If you do nothing… anyway nothing will change, but if you make a try… at least you would have tried and failed”.

Arakkal Vedhus CSCP, MBA, B.Tech., is a Senior Supply Chain Professional currently based in the United Arab Emirates. He was the Student Body President at IIFT, Delhi during his MBA days and is a keen follower of Indian politics.