A day after nominations were filed for the Congress presidential election, the stage was Saturday set for a straight contest between veteran Mallikarjun Kharge and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor after the nomination of former Jharkhand minister K N Tripathi was rejected.
While Kharge spent the day meeting leaders, including A K Antony who he called on at the Kerala House in Delhi, Tharoor kickstarted his campaign, paying tribute at Deekshabhoomi in Nagpur, where BR Ambedkar converted to Buddhism along with his followers in 1956.
Soon after Madhusudan Mistry, the head of the Congress’s central election authority, announced that Tripathi’s form has been rejected — as some of the signatures didn’t match — and that Kharge and Tharoor will face off, Tharoor tweeted the list of his proposers.
As reported by The Indian Express on Saturday, his proposers include four MPs — Karti Chidambaram, Pradyut Bordoloi, M K Raghavan and Mohammad Jawed — and party veteran Mohsina Kidwai and former MP and G-23 leader Sandeep Dikshit, besides senior leader and former union minister Saifuddin Soz and his son Salman.
From his home state of Kerala, he got the backing of Thampanoor Ravi and state Youth Congress vice-president and former legislator K S Sabarinath.
“I present my 60 nominees. 12 states, all levels of leadership but all proud @INCIndia workers. I thank them & the thousands of workers they represent for the faith they have placed in me. Thanks, my Parliamentary colleagues, for your unwavering support,” Tharoor tweeted.
While Tharoor is portraying himself as the candidate for change — his poll slogan is “Think tomorrow, think Tharoor” — he came under criticism from senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid, who was one of the proposers in Kharge’s nomination papers.
“Shashi says this (Kharge) has elements of continuity, his (Tharoor’s) has elements of change. But continuity and change are subjective terms, relative terms,” Khurshid told PTI.
The very fact” that the Congress was “having this election” was a ‘re-emphasis of continuity with change” because “it was not the first time that we (Congress)” was having elections, he added.
On Sunday, Tharoor will visit Mahatma Gandhi’s Sewagram Ashram in Wardha and Vinoba Bhave’s ashram in Pavnar.