Lucknow: Congress presidential poll candidate Shashi Tharoor on Sunday took a veiled dig at the Kharge camp saying some colleagues were “indulging in ‘netagiri’ and telling party workers” that they know whom Sonia Gandhi wants elected.
If anyone has “fear or doubt” in their mind, the party has made it clear that it will be a secret ballot, he said and urged the Congress delegates to listen to their hearts while voting to elect the new party president.
“I also asked Sonia Gandhi how she views the elections. She said that it is very good for the party, and you fight with full courage (‘himmat’), and we will stay neutral.
“She had said that there will be no official candidate from their side,” Tharoor told reporters at the Uttar Pradesh Congress headquarters.
The Thiruvananthapuram MP, who is contesting against veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge in the Monday election, emphasised on “decentralisation” in the organisation so that “‘all decisions are not taken in Delhi. He said that there should be “ready access” to the party president.
“Someone will win this polls, while someone will lose it. Whether Kharge sahab wins it or I win, I am of the view that the Congress should emerge victorious,” he said.
Tharoor stressed on the implementation of the Udaipur Declaration of the party including ‘one-person, one-post’ principle.
“There should be decentralisation in the party, so that all the decisions are not taken in Delhi,” he said and added that the opinion of the PCC delegates is important for the Congress.
Apparently alluding to the Kharge camp, he said, “I know that some of my colleagues are indulging in ‘netagiri’, and telling the party workers that they know what Sonia Gandhi wants and whom she wants.
“This type of ‘netagiri’ is not confined to this state, it was in many states. Don’t you (party workers) have faith in Sonia Gandhi’s words, who has been running our party?
“She had categorically made it clear that you contest the polls, and we (Gandhi family) will remain neutral.”
He stressed that “Sonia Gandhi gave directives to Madhusudan Mistry, the party’s chief election authority to say on the behalf of the party that we (Gandhi family) are neutral and that there is no official candidate.
“So, if anyone has any fear or doubt in their mind, then Mistry ji has categorically said that it will be a secret ballot,” he said.
Tharoor said that the Gandhi family has been associated with the party for a century and “their DNA is in our blood”.
He said that he does not want any factionalism in the party and stressed that he was not an opponent of Kharge.
“I see him as a friend and elder brother. But, our ‘sankalp’ (promises) and style of working are different.”
Voting will take place on October 17 in every state capital through a secret ballot. The election result will be declared on October 19.
There are nearly 9,300 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates, including 1,250 from Uttar Pradesh, who are eligible to vote.
Tharoor also said that he was scheduled to come to Lucknow on October 10 but had to change his plans following the demise of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav.
He informed that he will cast his vote in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.
On the decision to contest, Tharoor said, “For 22 years, there has been no election for the post of party president. And this time, when the working committee decided that elections will be held, Rahul Gandhi had decided not that he will not contest the polls nor does he want to take the post again.
“A strong Congress is needed for the country, and I thought of contesting the elections. We will show to the people that the Congress party is ready to adopt transformation.”
Meanwhile, Kharge, who was in Karnataka on Sunday, said he will definitely seek advice and support from Gandhi family if he is elected “There is no shame in it. If something benefits from your (media) advice, I will take it as well.
“They have worked for this party and taking their advice is my duty,” Kharge said.
Asked about his message for Tharoor, he said, “I don’t want to get into any controversy. He (Tharoor) is saying his thoughts, I don’t want to debate on his thoughts. I’m sharing my thoughts. It is our organisation or a family matter. He has the right to say what he wants to, similarly I too have. It is an internal friendly fight.”
He also dismissed claims that it will be a rigged election, with many senior leaders and delegates openly supporting him.
“I’m contacting election delegates, my campaign managers are organising…I’m a candidate of delegates, senior leaders and delegates have sponsored me,” Kharge said.