New Delhi: With technocrat E Sreedharan throwing his hat in the political ring by deciding to join the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor today said he is likely to have a "minimal" impact on the upcoming Kerala Assembly polls, and asserted that the BJP is not a serious contender except in a few seats in the state.
Tharoor also said it will be very difficult for the BJP to improve upon its performance of winning one seat in the 2016 assembly polls and the high point of E Sreedharan's impact on Kerala elections will turn out to be the announcement of joining the BJP itself.
Tharoor said he was surprised at the announcement that Sreedharan was going to enter the political fray and join the BJP.
He said Sreedharan's entry came as a surprise to him because the technocrat had a long innings executing engineering projects, not making or implementing policies in a fractious democracy. "It's a very different world," he added.
Asked what kind of impact Sreedharan could have on the Kerala Assembly polls, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram said, "Since he has no political background or experience, I think his impact is likely to be minimal."
"When I joined politics at 53, I thought I had done it too late to make the kind of impact I felt I was capable of. What can I say about someone who is 88?" Tharoor said.
On whether Sreedharan's entry will make the Kerala polls a three-way contest and the BJP will emerge as a serious contender alongside the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the United Democratic Front (UDF), he said the BJP is not a serious contender at all except in a handful of seats, and it will be very difficult for the party to improve upon the one seat it won last time.
"The high point of the impact (of E Sreedharan) will turn out to be this announcement itself," the 64-year-old former Union minister said.
Sreedharan, who recently announced that he will enter the political fray by joining the BJP, had said last week that he will contest the assembly elections if the BJP wants and will also be open to chief ministership if the party asks.
Known as the 'Metroman' and for completing big infrastructure projects, the 88-year-old technocrat has also said his main aim is to help the BJP come to power in Kerala.
Sreedharan's entry into the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is being seen as a major boost for the party in election-bound Kerala. The state has been ruled by the LDF and the Congress-led UDF alternately for the past many years.
Tharoor said the UDF has the talent, the experience and the creative energy to build a new narrative for the future of Kerala.
"What I am working on is intended to be, above all, a 'people's manifesto' -- not just about what the Congress will do for the people of Kerala, but what the people of Kerala want and expect the Congress to do for them," said Tharoor, who has been entrusted by the Congress in bringing various pertinent issues into the UDF''s election manifesto."That is why it is so important to seek suggestions and inputs from the people, about what they judge to be lacking in their lives that a receptive and inclusive government would seek to provide," he said.
The end product should reflect a vision for 21st century Kerala, and lay out some practical directions for the state to unleash its true potential and develop into a progressive and self-reliant place, offering abundant opportunities to its people, especially the youth, Tharoor said."I see our 'Talk To Tharoor' campaign as an opportunity for the UDF to serve the people of Kerala through creative ideas, responsible governance and the courage and confidence to rise to the aspirations of our people," he said.
It is sad but true that Keralites flourish everywhere in the world they go to, more easily than in Kerala, Tharoor argued.
We must remove the obstacles that prevent Keralites from thriving in Kerala. The UDF has the talent, the experience and the creative energy to build a new narrative for the future," he said.
The polls for the 140-member Kerala Assembly are likely to be held in April-May this year.
(From PTI feed with minor edits including heading)