T P Sreenivasan, the wellknown diplomat and rediff.com columnist accompanies first time candidate Shashi Tharoor on the campaign trail in Thiruvanathapuram
According to a story that circulated many years ago, when K Natwar Singh quit the Indian Foreign Service and joined the Congress party, Singh told then prime minister Indira Gandhi that the next step was to acquire a dozen khadi outfits for the campaign. Indira Gandhi told him that what he needed were a dozen more layers of thick skin.
Shashi Tharoor seems to have acquired both. He has abandoned even the silk kurtas and dhotis he used to sport during his transition from New York to Thiruvananthapuram and adopted the Congress uniform in Kerala, consisting of starched white shirts and white dhotis.
He has also learnt to face criticism and even sharp attacks cheerfully. Even in the sweltering heat, nothing provokes him as he moves about on the campaign trail. A Teflon skin is an asset to any politician.
The public in Thiruvananthapuram is clearly impressed that a former under secretary general of the United Nations has chosen the rough and tumble of a Lok Sabha election rather than get nominated to the Rajya Sabha, particularly since it is well known here that it was at Sonia Gandhi's insistence that he was given a seat at the cost of several local politicians, who had aspired to cash in on the Congress prospects on this occasion.
Grudging admiration is slowly giving way to enthusiasm for his candidature at every level of the Congress hierarchy.
Images: Shashi Tharoor on the campaign trail in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
Also see: I am unfazed by the 'outsider' tag, says Shashi Tharoor