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Will Thiruvanathapuram Elect Tharoor A 4th Time?

Last updated on: April 24, 2024 10:47 IST
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24 hours before campaigning ends in Thiruvanathapuram, Archana Masih/ discovers Shashi Tharoor and his BJP rival Rajeev Chandrasekhar are busy getting their message across to voters.

IMAGE: Wherever he goes in Thiruvanathapuram, women and the young want selfies with Shashi Tharoor, seen here with Sachin Pilot at the Kowdiar Park in Thiruvanathapuram, April 23, 2024. All Photographs and Videos: Archana Masih for

Men sporting red tikkas wait in the lobby of the Prasanth Hotel in Thiruvanathapuram for Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

It is mid-afternoon and Mr Chandrasekhar is to address a media conference and then meet with representatives from the travel and tour association.

Earlier, in the day he had been campaigning near the airport. The vehicle ferrying him has a small canopy which provides scant protection from the harsh sun. A small group of motor cycle riders herald his arrival to bystanders.

Currently a member of the Rajya Sabha member and a Union minister, Mr Chandrasekhar has been campaigning in the constituency for the past 45 days.

The battle in Thiruvanathapuram between Mr Chandrasekhar and Dr Shashi Tharoor is easily one of the most watched of electoral contests not only in Kerala, but in the rest of India.

IMAGE: Bharatiya Janata Party candidate Rajeev Chandrasekhar, right, speaks to journalists.

Suddenly, there is some excitement in the hotel lobby as a car drives in. Dressed in a kurta and mundu with a BJP stole around his neck, Mr Chandrasekhar is welcomed with a bouquet, several people shake hands with him as he makes his way to the small podium. He is surrounded by a posse of people waiting for him as he proceeds to the first floor.

IMAGE: The National Democratic Alliance electoral office in Thiruvanathapuram.

Sharing the stage with senior BJP leader P K Krishna Das, Mr Chandrasekhar speaks about the issue of delayed pensions to retired state employees. He says he has written to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman requesting her that when the Centre releases funds to Kerala, it must be made mandatory that the state government disburses pensions to retirees first as this is a "human issue":


On being asked by an India Today TV journalist about the jousting between INDIA partners Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Rahul Gandhi, Mr Chandrasekhar says this:


When Rediff asks if the PILs filed against him indicates the Congress is nervous and on shaky ground in the constituency -- and since he referred to himself as a future MP earlier in the media interaction, where his confidence comes from, this is Mr Chandrasekhar's response:


IMAGE: Dr Shashi Tharoor and Sachin Pilot launch the 'Scan Me' initiative.

Half an hour later, at the Kowdiar Park also known as Vivekananda Park, a group of largely young people are waiting for Congress candidate Shashi Tharoor.

Dr Tharoor, who is seeking a record fourth term from Thiruvanathapuram, is to arrive with Congress Working Committee member Sachin Pilot who has spent two days campaigning for his party in the state.

Loudspeakers ring out catchy campaign songs in Malayalam. A bunch of young men around the Vivekananda statue wear 'Scan Me' t-shirts with a QR code.



"On scanning the code, above, voters can get information about the work Dr Tharoor has done in the constituency," says a Congress member who had come to the park after reading about the event on X.

The candidate and Pilot arrive accompanied by Shobha Tharoor Srinivasan, Dr Tharoor's US-based younger sister who has spent the last month in the city to support her brother.

The duo is instantly mobbed by reporters on the pavement outside the park as Pilot launches the 'Scan Me' initiative. Pilot speaks about the lack of a level playing field and the freezing of Congress bank accounts. Dr Tharoor adds that bank accounts for the poor were first launched by then prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh in whose government he served briefly as a minister. Hear what they said:


Pilot -- who was flying to "Calicut" on Tuesday evening, presumably to canvass votes for the ailing Rahul Gandhi on the last day of the election campaign in Wayanad on Wednesday -- is certain about the number of seats the Congress-led United Democratic Front candidates will win in Kerala: All of the state's 20 seats.

Dr Tharoor is puzzled about why Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan is attacking Rahul Gandhi and the Congress instead of attacking the BJP:


Sachin Pilot -- who refuses to take questions on Narendra D Modi's controversial speech on Sunday in Banswara in Pilot's home state Rajasthan, perhaps indicating that the Congress wants individual leaders to stay silent on the contentious issue rather than stir the cauldron by diverse comments and voices -- makes a pitch why Thiruvanathpuram's voters must send Dr Tharoor to the Lok Sabha for a fourth time:


Videos and Photo Editor: Rajesh Karkera/
Feature Presentation: Aslam Hunani/

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