‘Whatever happened…we remain friends’: Tharoor and Kharge share bonhomie as Cong presidential polls begin
Both Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor cast votes for the Congress presidential elections. While Tharoor exercised his franchise in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, Kharge did so in Bengaluru.
As Congress votes to choose its next president, the two candidates - Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor - on Monday exuded bonhomie, with both veterans wishing each other “luck” and stressing that they will remain “friends” regardless of the result.
In Kerala, Tharoor - who has earlier talked about “uneven playing field” for the Congress presidential polls, said that he spoke with Kharge earlier in the day and conveyed about remaining “colleagues and friends” despite “whatever has happened". Kharge, meanwhile, told reporters in Karnataka that whatever he and Tharoor spoke was on a “friendly note”.
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“Together we have to build the party. (Shashi) Tharoor telephoned me and wished me luck and I also said the same,” Kharge was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Even so, Tharoor took a veiled jibe at his party leaders and the “establishment” amid reports that Kharge is the favourite to be triumphant in the elections.
“The fate of the Congress party is in the hands of party workers. The odds have been stacked against us as the party leaders and establishment were overwhelmingly with the other candidate,” ANI quoted him as saying.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP, who is also a member of the G-23 rebel group within Congress, took to Twitter earlier today to post a cryptic tweet wherein he mentioned about “playing safe in order not to lose”.
Last week, Tharoor had clarified his “uneven playing field” remark, saying that it was about the alleged difference in the treatment shown to him and Kharge by some party's office bearers. Saying that he is not “complaining”, the MP asked, “Do you not see a difference?”
Both the candidates cast their votes for the polls. While Tharoor exercised his franchise in Thiruvananthapuram, Kharge did so in Bengaluru.
Kharge and Tharoor have exhibited sharp contrast in their agenda if elected the Congress chief. While Kharge talked about not being ashamed of taking the guidance of the Gandhi family, Tharoor has focused on introducing structural changes in the grand old party to make it more modern and inclusive.
The Gandhi family has maintained a distance from the election, and interim president Sonia Gandhi had earlier said that they are not going to take any candidate's side. Kharge and Tharoor themselves have reiterated the same on multiple occasions.
More than 9,000 delegates are voting to choose the next president of the Congress party. Former party chief Rahul Gandhi will cast his vote from a special polling booth at a ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ campsite in Karnataka, while Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are expected to do so at the party headquarters in Delhi.
The results of the polls will be announced on October 19, and whoever between Kharge and Tharoor emerges as the winner, will succeed Sonia as the first non-Gandhi Congress president in over 24 years.