Parliament leader Shashi Tharoor Sunday acknowledged that the party’s quest to elect a new head – the first non-Gandhi boss in more than two decades – got off to a shaky start with the advent of a new candidate. The candidate supporting his opponent is Mallikarjun Kharge.
“There are certainly aspects that imply an uneven playing field,” he said in a NDTV township in Mumbai, revealing that several leaders had told him they were “under pressure” to support him. Kharge, considered the Gandhis’ choice.
However, he categorically refused to blame party leader Sonia Gandhi and his son Rahul Gandhi.
“The Gandhi family made it very clear, also through the chief electorate Mr [Madhusudan] Mistry, there is no official candidate. The Gandhi family stood neutral in this race. And, Mistry added, if someone says otherwise, that’s not true. And he said it twice,” Mr Tharoor said.
“So the reality is, I’m assuming there’s no official candidate. But you’re right in your question that some people in the party are implying otherwise and trying to influence voters by reason. that theory,” he said.
When asked about widespread reports that it was the senior leader of Parliament KC Venugopal – a key aide to Rahul Gandhi who phoned Mr Kharge and coaxed him to join at the last moment, Shashi Tharoor said that he “had no choice but to listen to the words of my party chairman and the Gandhi family”.
“I always expect that there will be a senior leader in the race, the organization must definitely rally behind him. And that is clear from the signatures collected on the [Mr Kharge’s] nomination form, the people who accompanied him to submit it and the behavior of party colleagues on the campaign trail,” he said.
Mr Tharoor added: “Wherever Mr Kharge goes, representatives of Parliament greet him, garlands…
However, the senior leader of Congress denied that he had been explicitly asked to withdraw from the race. “When I called him to wish him [Mr Kharge] well – I want to make sure there’s no hard feelings – he said to me, ‘I would prefer a consensus, but I think that’s not possible in a democracy’,” said Tharoor. speak.
“He never explicitly asked me to withdraw. But if he asked me, I would have to say, ‘I’m sorry.’ Many people have tried to find me and received calls from people. Other women tell them ‘Why are you like this’. do this,’ he added.
Mr Tharoor also said he was “disappointed and not disheartened” by a number of Parliament dissidents such as Manish Tewari – who with him have called for sweeping organizational change as part of a so-called group “G-23” – decided to side with Mr. Kharge’s candidacy.
Referring to his election campaign as an overhaul of the National Assembly, Mr. Tharoor said, “Our principle is different in how to get the party ready for the polls. I believe the business operation. business as usual won’t work. So it’s between business as usual and change or ‘Parivartan’.”
He also dismissed suggestions that Rahul Gandhi would try to run the National Assembly through “remote control” regardless of the outcome of the election, Tharoor said, “Rahul Gandhi replied that before If Rahul Gandhi wants to run the party, all he has to do is withdraw his resignation.”