Hyderabad (Telangana): Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Monday said that with two consecutive losses in the Lok Sabha elections, there is a need for a “renewed and reinvigorated” party to take on the challenge of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party at the Centre.
Tharoor is currently in Hyderabad campaigning for the upcoming presidential polls of the party in which he is up against the veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
“This election is about how Congress should be best equipped to take on the ruling govt today, which is BJP. We have lost two elections… We need a renewed, reinvigorated Congress party where it is mobilised effectively to take on this challenge,” Tharoor said while speaking to the media.
He denied the existence of the G-23 group within the Congress (which wrote to Sonia Gandhi seeking reforms in the party), and said that it was a “media idea”.
“There is no G-23 group. There never was, it was a media idea. As far as I can tell you, a couple of seniors wrote the letter. They invited a large number of people to support them. They told me that by phone they have contacted over a hundred people who have extended support. There was COVID lockdown in 2020. Only 23 people were available in Delhi to sign it at that time,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, Tharoor said that he represents a change in the party which a leader like Mallikarjun Kharge can’t bring about.
The Congress MP, while addressing party workers at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial in Nagpur, said that the Congress President’s polls are not a war, but only “he” can bring the required changes in the party.
“We are not enemies, it’s not war. Some people are saying that Kharge Ji is a senior leader, and why don’t I get out of the race for him? I respect Kharge Ji, but it’s a poll for our party’s future. There are differences in the way we want to take the party forward,” Tharoor said.
“Kharge Ji is a part of our leadership, and other than the Gandhi family he is among the top three leaders of the Congress party. But leaders like him can’t bring change and will continue the existing system. I will bring the change as per the expectations of party workers,” Tharoor further said.
Earlier on Saturday, Tharoor had called the Gandhi family an asset to the party saying, “Gandhi family and Congress’ DNA is the same…No (party) president is such a fool to tell “goodbye” to Gandhi family. They are a huge asset to us”.
Tharoor stressed that the contest between him and Kharge is “not a battle” and it should be left upon the Congress workers to choose between the two.
“This isn’t a battle…Let party workers choose, that’s our message. I’m saying that if you’re satisfied with the party’s work, vote for Kharge Sahab. If you want a change, I’m there. But there’s no ideological problem. There will not be any change in the message of the Congress party,” he said.
Digvijaya Singh earlier pulled out from the race and extended his support to Kharge, who he said is a senior and respected leader of the party, and against whom he “cannot think of contesting”.
Singh is the second Congress leader to pull out of the race after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced he would not contest the elections following the political turmoil in his state.
With the Gandhis not running for the top post, the party is all set to get a non-Gandhi president after over 25 years.