Kharge vows 'big change' as he takes on Tharoor for Congress president post
Senior Congress leader and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge filed his nomination for the post of Congress president at the party office in the national capital.
“All leaders, workers, delegates and ministers who came in support of me today, encouraged me, I thank them. We will see what the results are, on October 17; hopeful that I win,” the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha told reporters.
He also appealed to all delegates to vote for him.
“I have been connected to the ideology of the Congress since my childhood, used to campaign for the same Gandhi, Nehru ideology when I was in classes 8th, 9th,” Kharge said.
His candidature was proposed by party leaders Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh, Pramod Tiwari, PL Punia, AK Antony, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Mukul Wasnik. G-23 leaders Anand Sharma and Manish Tewari have also backed him.
Kharge is one of the most experienced persons in the party and is a Dalit leader too, Tewari said. Friday is the last day for filing nominations for the top party post.
Earlier, former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijaya Singh and Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot were also a part of the race which they eventually stated to have dropped.
The former Madhya Pradesh chief minister visited Kharge at his residence this morning. "I told him that I stand by him and can't even think of contesting against him, I will be his proposer," Singh told reporters.
Congress MP Deepender S Hooda also said: "I welcome Mallikarjun Kharge's nomination for Congress president post and am confident that he will get elected. Over the years, he has raised the voice of the people in Parliament. I've signed his nomination papers as a proposer."
Meanwhile, Gehlot had on Thursday said he is pulling out of the contest after he met with Sonia Gandhi and apologised to her for the ruckus in Rajasthan triggered by his loyalists over a possible leadership change in the state after Gehlot was set to file his nomination papers for the Congress chief polls.
Congress MP Shashi Tharoor asserted that he has a vision to strengthen the party which should be a vehicle for "change" as he filed his nomination for the party president poll.
Addressing a press conference after filing his papers, the former Union minister called his rival Kharge 'Bhishma Pitamah' of the Congress.
"It is a friendly contest that is going to happen. We are not enemies or rivals. No disrespect to him but I will represent my ideas," the articulate and savvy Kerala MP told reporters.
Tharoor called Kharge, 80, a "candidate of continuity", an apparent reference to the impression that the Karnataka leader is the choice of the Gandhis.
"I am not surprised that the establishment is rallying behind the status quo. If you want the status quo, I think you should vote for Mr. Kharge. If you want change and progress with an eye to the rest of the 21st century, then I hope I will stand for that change," the Thiruvananthapuram MP said.
He also spoke at length in Hindi, an apparent attempt to emphasise his bilingual credentials. Both Tharoor and Kharge are from south India while a majority of party delegates, who will vote in the poll, are from Hindi-speaking states.
Tharoor also ruled out withdrawing from the contest, stressing that he has not taken the trouble of filing the nomination only to opt out later. He said he will not let down party workers supporting him.
(With inputs from agencies)