Shashi Tharoor, who is one of the contenders in the Congress presidential poll race, on Saturday said he wants to be the “voice of the youths" of the country and said he does not think that the new party chief will be a “rubber stamp". The Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram also said that he was engaged in a “friendly" contest with senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge for the top post.
“There’s a friendly contest, we have various aims and are seeking support (in Congress president polls). Many workers who want a change in the party have asked me to contest. I want to be the voice of the young. I will give a good account of myself," said Tharoor in Maharashtra’s Nagpur.
Emphasising on giving importance to party workers, he said, “We give respect to big leaders but it is time to hear the youth in the party. We will work for changing organisational structure of the party and that importance should be given to workers of the party."
Tharoor said Kharge has the support for workers of the party from different states. “Mallikarjun Kharge’s confidence is good. I am also confident that there are people who will listen to me too. Big leaders can naturally stand with other big leaders in party, but with me, there are workers of the party from different states,” he said.
Tharoor launched his campaign for the party president’s election by visiting the Deekshabhoomi monument in Nagpur. He also said he was told by the Gandhi family that there is no “official" candidate in the party president’s election and they will stay neutral.
“I had met with all three (Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka) from the Gandhi family. They repeatedly told me there is no official candidate in the party president’s election and there will be no such candidate. They want a good and fair election. The Gandhi family will be neutral and the party machinery impartial. They want a good election and the party to be strengthened. I don’t have any doubts when the party president assured me," Tharoor responded when asked whether Kharge is the choice of the Gandhi family and their favourite candidate.
The process of filing nominations for organisational elections began on September 24 and ended on September 30. Congress will hold polls to elect its president on October 17. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8 and the votes will be counted on October 19.
Tharoor was one of vocal voices of G-23 Congress leaders who sent a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi demanding sweeping reforms in the party and transparency in decision-making process.
“I will bring new spirit in party. It’s true that I was with G23 group. Everyone knows that most of the G23 people are with Kharge," he said.
Tharoor joined Congress in 2009 and is a three-time Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram. He is also the chairperson of All India Professional’s Congress (AIPC).
The Congress MP said all opposition parties will come together for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and work on a common minimum programme.
Tharoor served as union minister twice for a brief period—from May 2009 to April 2010 as Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs and October 2012 to May 2014 as MoS for Human Resource Development. He has authored over 20 books and served in the UN for nearly 30 years in different capacities.