Race for Cong top post hots up

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Tharoor says he is open to the idea of a public debate between the candidates as it would evoke people’s interest in the party in a manner similar to the recent British Conservative Party leadership race…reports Asian Lite News

With two weeks left for the Congress election for its new party president Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor have began ther campaign in full steam.

While Lok Sabha MP Tharoor said he would be open to the idea of a public debate between the candidates as it would evoke people’s interest in the party in a manner similar to the recent British Conservative Party leadership race, Kharge asserted that the “G23” camp no longer exists and all leaders are united to fight the Bharatiya Janata Party and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

The leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, who resigned from the post on Friday to contest the election, also said he told Tharoor, who is also in the fray for the poll, that it would be better to have a consensus candidate but the latter insisted on a contest for the “sake of democracy”.

Kharge was addressing the media during the launch of his Congress presidential poll campaign when he made the remarks. While the election, if needed, is slated to be held on October 17, the results will be declared on October 19.

“There is no G23 camp now. All leaders (of G23) want to work together to stay united and fight against BJP-RSS. This is the reason they are supporting me,” the 80-year-old said.

Several leaders such as Bhupinder Hooda, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari and Prithviraj Chavan were among 23 leaders, popularly called G23, who had written to Congress president Sonia Gandhi in 2020, seeking organisational reforms in the party.

These leaders have now, however, put their weight behind Kharge by becoming his proposers for next month’s poll.

Kharge said he is contesting the election on the insistence of senior leaders as no member of the Gandhi family wanted to become the party chief.

“All my colleagues told me to fight the party president poll and on their calling and encouragement, I got inspiration as they extended their cooperation… because Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, and Priyanka Gandhi do not want to become president,” he said.

He dismissed allegations that he is Gandhis’ candidate. Talking about Tharoor’s phone call to him after nominations, Kharge said he told him that it would be “better to have a consensus candidate to which he (Tharoor) said that there should be a fight in a democracy, and then I said okay”.

“When a candidate decides to contest, how can I stop him? So, he is fighting and he is my younger brother. It is a family matter and we have to stay united today and tomorrow,” he said.

Kharge said he has not entered the poll fray to oppose anyone but to “strengthen the party”. “Will always work to take forward the party’s principles and ideology,” he said.

He said that in line with the “one person, one post” principle of the party, he resigned as LoP in Rajya Sabha on Friday, the day he filed the nomination.

To fight in the October 17 poll, a candidate needs 10 proposers.

Meanwhile, Tharoor said the Nehru-Gandhi family has held and will always hold a special place in the hearts of Congress party members.

Tharoor said the answer to the Congress’ current challenges lies in a combination of effective leadership and organisational reforms.

Talking about what he brings to the table, Tharoor said, “I have a proven and credible track record in leading at the highest levels of organisations, whether it has been at the UN, where, as the under-secretary general in-charge of the body’s public information department, I managed the communications of the UN’s largest department comprising of over 800 staff in 77 offices worldwide, rationalised its structure, trimmed its budget and sharpened its efforts – all of which prompted many to urge me to contest to lead the UN Organisation itself.

“Or, more recently for the Congress party, as founder-chairman of the All-India Professionals’ Congress, which I had to create from scratch and which in just five years since 2017 has over 10, 000 fellows from across 20 states in the country.” In terms of organisational reforms, the former Union minister said, he has outlined a set of priorities which he believes can help strengthen the Congress and take on the machinery of the BJP.

“Since our current situation is widely deplored, it may be an advantage not to be burdened by the baggage of having spent too much time in the present party organisation and be able to approach it from a fresh perspective,” the 66-year-old leader said.

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