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Shashi Tharoor axed as Congress Spokesman
Tuesday October 14, 2014 9:35 AM, IANS

The Congress Monday removed Shashi Tharoor as a spokesperson following a recommendation from its Kerala unit after he praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a decision the former diplomat said he accepted as a "loyal party worker".

The All India Congress Committee took the decision following a complaint by its Kerala unit, which was upset over Tharoor's praise for Modi and his decision to join the Clean India Campaign.

A former central minister, Tharoor was one of nine prominent people Modi nominated for the Clean India Campaign.

While the BJP slammed the Congress for punishing Tharoor for taking part in an apolitical campaign, the Congress clarified that the decision was based on complains it received against him.

"Congress president Sonia Gandhi has accepted the recommendation of AICC disciplinary committee to remove Shashi Tharoor from the list of spokespersons with immediate effect," party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said.

The disciplinary committee's members were Motilal Vora, A.K. Antony and Sushilkumar Shinde.

Tharoor, a Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram, said he accepted the decision.

"I have seen the press release issued by the AICC and, as a loyal worker of the Congress, accept the decision of the party president to relieve me of my responsibilities as a spokesman," Tharoor said in a statement.

He said he had not yet seen the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) complaint against him, following which he was sacked.

"While I would have welcomed an opportunity to respond to it (the Kerala unit's recommendation) and draw the attention of the AICC leadership to the full range of my statements and writings on contemporary political issues, I am treating this matter as closed and have no further comment to make," he said.

Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said Tharoor "was a party spokesman, he was supposed to speak for the party, not for himself".

Three-time Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit refused to comment, only saying: "The party has the right to take a decision."

Congress spokesperson Shobha Oza said the Tharoor issue had been lingering for some months.

"Tharoor's statements were coming and the Kerala Congress Committee had expressed their objections and sent a report to the Congress president which she accepted," Oza said.

Amid speculation that the decision could be linked to Tharoor's wife Sunanda Pushkar's mysterious death, Oza clarified it was not so.

"He (Tharoor) is still a Congress leader and the chairperson of the standing committee on external affairs," she added.

The BJP accused the Congress of politicising the Clean India Campaign.

"It is an internal matter of the party... But it shows the level of intolerance within the Congress," BJP spokesman Sidharth Nath Singh said.

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