With the speculations of a triangular contest coming to end after the nomination of former Jharkhand minister KN Tripathi got rejected over technicalities, the election for Congress president is now a direct war between party veteran Mallikarjun Kharge and senior leader Shashi Tharoor.
Tharoor on Saturday set the battlefield by drawing an analogy between the Gandhi family and the DNA of the grand-old-party and said that no party chief can distance himself from the Gandhi family, emphasizing that he is contesting the party’s presidential elections to bring a ” change” in the party.
He underlined that though the party would choose a new president after internal polls on October 17, the family will continue to be an asset to the party asserting that the new Congress president cannot be “such a fool” to say “goodbye” to the Gandhi family.
“Gandhi family and Congress’ DNA is the same…No (party) president is such a fool to tell “Goodbye” to Gandhi family. They are a huge asset to us,” said Tharoor in a conversation to ANI.
Mr Tharoor, while clarifying his electoral vision said, “this is not a war”, but wants the voters — an electoral college of over 9,000 delegates — to see Mr Kharge as a symbol of status quo, meaning the Gandhis holding power themselves or by proxy.
Taking into consideration the fact that all the decisions in the party are being taken by the Central leadership, Tharoor emphasized on giving rights to the lower levels of the organization to make decisions.
“All the decisions are being taken in New Delhi these days/ It would be good for the party if the rights to take decisions are given to the grassroots at the levels of the blocks, Zilla and state,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the manifesto released by Tharoor soon after filing his nomination, he highlighted the need for “decentralization” in the party.
With the slogan — ‘Think Tomorrow, Think Tharoor’ —, the 66-year-old MP sets an idea of an aspirational future as the party hopes for better performance in 2024 after two consecutive defeats by the BJP.
The third-term MP from Kerala said, “All I am telling the members is that if you’re satisfied with the functioning of the party, please vote for Kharge saab. But if you want a change — if you want the party to function differently — choose me.”
It was on Thursday that the battlefield got a clear picture as Digvijaya Singh pulled out from the race and extended his support to Kharge, who he said is a senior and respected leader of the party, and “cannot think of contesting” against him
Singh is the second Congress leader to pull out of the race after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced he would not contest the elections following the political turmoil in his state as the loyal followers of Gehlot didn’t want him to quit on CM post.
Mr Kharge, an MP from Karnataka, on Saturday, resigned as the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha — heeding to Congress’s ‘one person, one post’ rule a day before he gained support from more than 30 leaders backing his candidature.
With the Gandhis not running for the top post, the grand old party is all ready to get a non-Gandhi president after over 25 years.
The results of the party polls will be declared on October 19 after elections on 17th.
(With Inputs from ANI)