More than 16,000 signatures have been cast on the online petition on change.org that demands Congress leader Shashi Tharoor to be nominated as the UPA’s prime ministerial contender in 2019. But Tharoor, the MP from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, has now stated that he neither endorses nor supports the campaign.
In a Facebook post, Tharoor wrote, “I am a member of Parliament for the Congress Party, nothing more and nothing less. The party has a settled leadership, which is not up for debate. When changes occur they do so through an established procedure.” He said he discouraged his ‘followers’ from signing the petition as well.
Stressing that he has been touched by the campaign, the former UN under-secretary general said he would continue his work in his constituency and articulate his hopes about the country. The Congress MP asked for the withdrawal of the petition as well.
The petition, started by a man called Paul Trivandrum, said India needs ‘a strong public interest based opposition led by a visionary leader capable of Prime Ministership’ and that Tharoor, who has ‘deep knowledge of international and national issues’ can connect with people and with world leaders. The petition was addressed to Sonia Gandhi, president of the Congress party, the AICC and the UPA.
In recent days, the leadership of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been questioned within the media and the party after its disastrous outing in the elections in Uttar Pradesh, the largest state in the country. Although Gandhi teamed up with Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav for the elections, it was decimated by the BJP under the leadership of Narendra Modi. While PM Modi is widely expected to lead the BJP campaign in 2019, it is not clear whether the UPA will officially name Gandhi as its prime ministerial contender. Gandhi’s elevation as the Congress president is also long-awaited.