As Mallikarjun Kharge launched his campaign for Congress presidential polls from Gujarat Friday, asserting that he would not be controlled by “a remote control”, his rival Shashi Tharoor, who landed in Tamil Nadu, repeated his complaint that party leaders may be staying away from his meetings despite calls for “neutrality” in the contest.
“Enjoyed a warm welcome at @INCTamilNadu from party colleagues, but no “leaders” present. At the ensuing press conference, the media alleged that office-bearers were told to stay away. Interestingly dozens of ordinary citizens attended, to show me their support,” Tharoor tweeted.
Enjoyed a warm welcome at @INCTamilNadu from party colleagues, but no “leaders” present. At the ensuing press conference, media alleged that office-bearers were told to stay away. Interestingly dozens of ordinary citizens attended, to show me their support #ThinkTomorrow pic.twitter.com/rKQjU0vcZy
Kharge held a meeting with Gujarat PCC leaders at the party headquarters in Ahmedabad. “It is an election within a home and so I met the delegates and leaders, who in large numbers have assured to support me,” he said.
He was starting his campaign from Ahmedabad because of his party’s association with leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Kharge said, adding that his goal was to “save the Congress ideology” and “take forward the ideals and principles of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel”.
He said he was not fighting the contest “of my own will”, but because no one from the Gandhi family was in the fray. “Senior leaders of the Congress, delegates and workers forced me,” he said.
Asked if he will continue to report to the Gandhi family if elected party president, Kharge said, “There is no remote control in the Congress. We come together to make a decision. Why don’t you tell me how many times your Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) conducted elections (for party president). All presidents were elected by consensus and you are teaching us about remote control! Who has the remote control in the BJP?”
Asked how he would handle the crisis in Rajasthan, where Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s position is uncertain following open defiance by his loyalists, Kharge said: “Once I am elected, I will take all the leaders along.”
Tharoor, who arrived in Tamil Nadu Friday as part of his tour to rally support, released his manifesto and said he favoured limiting the term of office for state presidents, speaking at the Congress state headquarters.
Tharoor said he was getting enormous feedback from ordinary party workers, especially youngsters, and said it was very gratifying for him that the youth were with him. “I want the Congress to be the party of young India. I want to represent the aspirations, dreams and hopes of young India, just as (former prime minister) Rajiv Gandhi attempted to do 40 years ago.”
– With PTI inputs