No official candidate, trying to create such notion is wrong
‘I believe the contest has brought welcome attention to the party. It is healthy for the party workers to decide who should lead them. I believe the victor in a free and fair election gains legitimacy from the process. So, I will not be seeking Mr Kharge’s withdrawal in the name of consensus’
As the Congress presidential race enters a crucial stage, one of the two candidates Shashi Tharoor says that it is quite unfair to create an impression that there is an “official candidate”. Talking to Ramesh Babu , the three-time MP from Thiruvananthapuram said his attempt will only strengthen the party and his support base is expanding. Edited excerpts:
Q: Despite strict directive from the party leadership not to support any candidate publicly, some are still batting openly for your opponent? Telangana Congress legislature party leader M B Vikramarka and now Kerala PCC chief K Sudhakaran joined the bandwagon?
I believe some may have spoken before the official directive came out, under the mistaken belief that there is an “official candidate”. But the party president and former president have assured me that there isn’t and they are neutral. Shame on those who would doubt their words. I don’t know why some people are trying to create such an impression. It is not fair. It is for the party election observer to take note of these comments.
Q: Many in the party still talk about a consensus. Any room for this now?
I believe the contest has brought welcome attention to the party. It is healthy for the party workers to decide who should lead them. I believe the victor in a free and fair election gains legitimacy from the process. So, I will not be seeking Mr Kharge’s withdrawal in the name of consensus. It is only a friendly contest, let it happen, it is good for the party. I cannot let down many party leaders and workers who stuck their neck out by signing forms and supported me throughout.
Q You always say youngsters need a change. What really attracts youngsters to you?
I think you’ ll have to ask them. With me, what you see is what you get. That may be a quality that attracts both young and old alike! Tremendous amount of sprit and enthusiasm show they seem to believe that I represent a possibility of change. What is really encouraging is that ordinary party workers from different parts of the country are pledging their support.
Q: There is a general talk that a defeat will eventually pave your way out of the party?
I don’t know what that is based on. I have stuck by the party during various adversities when, had I been so inclined, I could have exercised any of multiple options elsewhere. There has been no reason to doubt my loyalty to the Congress since I joined it fourteen years ago. My principles are not for sale and were articulated well before I joined politics. My main objective in this election is to strengthen the Congress party to take on the formidable BJP machinery. I am really gratified that so many party workers around the country have expressed their support for my vision to take on this task.
Q: What will be your first priority if you emerge winner?
To fulfil promises made in my manifesto, which are both detailed and specific. And to call for elections to the working committee to spread our inner-party democracy even further. There will be a clear decentralisation.