Congress presidential poll: Wanted consensus, Shashi Tharoor insisted on contest, says Mallikarjun Kharge

October 03,2022

As his underdog rival in the Congress presidential poll Shashi Tharoor sought a public debate on their visions, Mallikarjun Kharge, the frontrunner and putative successor to Sonia Gandhi, steered clear of the demand, saying the need of the hour is to fight RSS-BJP, and not each other.

Tharoor said he was open to the idea of a debate and that it will evoke people’s interest in Congress like the interest generated by the recent leadership debate in the British Conservative party.

Kharge launched his campaign by addressing the media and unveiling his poll agents — Deepender Hooda, Naseer Hussain and Gourav Vallabh, on Gandhi Jayanti. When asked about Tharoor’s invite, he said, “I don’t want to get into that, I only know how to work, give me an opportunity to do that.”

Kharge also said that the country is facing serious problems like unemployment, communal discord, atrocities on weaker sections, inflation, and that should be the priority of every Congress member. “We belong to the same home and we have to fight together, not against each other. If we have to debate, we should jointly debate against RSS-BJP. Debating each other will neither benefit the country, nor the party.”

Kharge also lashed out at BJP for trying to “undermine” the AICC polls by raising questions, asking the governing party to spell out how was JP Nadda elected the BJP president and who were the voters. Slamming the commentary about being a proxy, he said as the Congress president, Kharge will consult the Gandhi family and Rahul Gandhi about ideas, and there was nothing wrong in it.

He also revealed that when Tharoor called to congratulate him on his nomination, he proposed that consensus for the president’s post would be better. “But Tharoor said a contest is good in democracy. I said okay. This is an internal matter of Congress.”When asked if he would urge Tharoor to withdraw his nomination, Kharge said it was up to Tharoor and he would not compel anyone. Kharge saidthat he filed papers for the internal polls because party members from all over asked him to contest.

“As Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi didn’t want to fight the polls, I was asked by my senior colleagues to contest the elections. I am not fighting against anyone. I am fighting for the ideology of the party.”About Tharoor’s remark that Kharge is a candidate of status quo while he is the one of change, the veteran said reforms will be undertaken in the party as per the views of leaders and workers, and one person will not decide the issue.

The party veteran said Congress presidency is a “full time job”, and he has a habit of working sincerely in whatever post he holds.