Cong polls: While Kharge claims no G-23 now, Tharoor calls for an open debate

Cong polls: While Kharge claims no G-23 now, Tharoor calls for an open debate

Mallikarjuna Kharge, who could become the grand old party’s first Dalit chief in five decades if elected, while speaking to reporters underlined that all leaders were united in the party. He was commenting on the so-called G-23 group of Congress leaders who had two years back wrote a letter to Sonia Gandhi on the need of sweeping changes in the Congress.

“There is no G-23 camp now. All leaders (of G-23) want to work together to stay united and fight against BJP-RSS. This is the reason they are supporting me,” Kharge was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.

Manish Tewari, Anand Sharma and Prithviraj Chavan, who were among the leaders of the rebel group, have now backed Kharge’s candidacy for the presidential post. Ashok Gehlot and Digvijaya Singh, who decided to drop out of the race, are also among his supporters.

Also read: Congress polls: Gehlot backs Kharge, says Tharoor belongs to elite class

Kharge also shared why he decided to contest the polls in the eleventh hour. “Many leaders of the party told me that I should contest the elections. Due to their encouragement, I am contesting the elections today,” he underlined. On Friday, Kharge filed his nomination for the Congress presidential elections, shortly before the deadline.

While there has been buzz that the veteran leader has been backed by the Gandhis, he rejected the speculation on Sunday.

Tharoor for open debate

His rival in the election, Shashi Tharoor also seems to be okay with the idea of having an open debate with Kharge in the run up to the crucial polls. He has been repeatedly saying that the contest “is not a battle”, but has also insisted that “those who want change should elect him”.

In an interview with news agency PTI, Tharoor said he would be “open to the idea” when asked if he would want a public debate between the party’s presidential candidates, as is seen in the recent British Conservative Party leadership race. “There are no ideological differences among us; rather, it is a question of how we propose to go about achieving the objectives we already agree upon,” he said.

According to the Thiruvananthapuram MP, between the last date for submission of nominations and the date for polls, there are roughly two-and-a-half weeks and it would be, therefore, practically and logistically difficult to reach out to all the 9,000-odd delegates who are eligible to vote in these elections.

“In that sense, a platform where candidates can exchange their ideas and vision for the party in a constructive manner would potentially facilitate the transmission of these perspectives to more of the delegates than we can reach,” PTI quoted him as saying.

At the same time, such an exchange of ideas would certainly garner much interest from non-voting sections as well, be it other Congress workers, the media and even the general Indian public, he said.

Kharge begins campaign

Meanwhile, Kharge announced his “official start” to the election campaign on Sunday. “The day I filed my nomination, I submitted resignation from my post, aligning with the ‘One Person One Post’ decision of the party taken in Udaipur. I officially begin my campaign for the post of Congress party president today,” Kharge said while addressing a press conference with other three Congress leaders Gourav Vallabh, Deepender S Hooda and Syed Naseer Hussain.

Also read: Shashi Tharoor: From distinguished UN career to being outspoken politician

Kharge tendered his resignation as the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha on Saturday as he filed nomination papers to contest the post of president of his party a day before.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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