Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said on Monday that with two consecutive defeats in the Lok Sabha elections, there is a need for a “renewed and reinvigorated” party to take up the challenge of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the Centre.
Tharoor is currently in Hyderabad campaigning for the party’s upcoming presidential election against veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge.
“This election is about how Congress should be better equipped to take on the ruling government today, which is the BJP. We have lost two elections… We need a renewed and reinvigorated Congress party that is effectively mobilized to take on this challenge, “Tharoor said while speaking to the media.
He denied the existence of the G-23 group within Congress (who wrote to Sonia Gandhi asking for 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, a couple of older people wrote the letter. They invited a lot of people to support them. They told me that over a hundred people have been contacted by phone who have provided support. There was a COVID lockdown in 2020. Only 23 people were available in Delhi to sign it at the time,” he said.
Earlier on Sunday, Tharoor said it represents a change in the party that a leader like Mallikarjun Kharge cannot bring about.
The Congress MP, while addressing party workers at the Mahatma Gandhi Monument in Nagpur, said that the Congress Speaker elections are not a war, but only “he” can bring about the necessary changes in the party.
“We are not enemies, it is not a war. Some people say that Kharge Ji is a high-level leader, and why don’t I get out of the race for him? I respect Kharge Ji, but it is a poll for the future of our party There are differences in the way we want to run the game,” said Tharoor.
“Kharge Ji is part of our leadership and, apart from the Gandhi family, he is among the top three leaders of the Congress party. But leaders like him cannot bring about change and will continue with the existing system. I will bring change as per the instructions.” party workers’ expectations,” Tharoor further said.
Earlier on Saturday, while speaking to ANI, Tharoor had called the Gandhi family an asset to the party saying: “The DNA of the Gandhi family and the Congress is the same… No (party) president is as foolish as to say “goodbye” to the Gandhi family. They are a great asset to us.”
Tharoor stressed that the contest between him and Kharge “is not a battle” and it should be left to the workers of Congress to choose between the two.
“This is not a battle… Let the party workers choose, that is our message. I am saying that if you are satisfied with the work of the party, vote for Kharge Sahab. If you want a change, I’m there. But there is no ideological problem. There is not going to be any change in the message of the Congress party,” he said.
Digvijaya Singh earlier withdrew from the race and extended his support to Kharge, who he said is a high-ranking and respected leader of the party, and whom he “can’t think of running against”.
Singh is the second Congress leader to drop out of the race after Rajasthan Prime Minister Ashok Gehlot announced he would not run in the election following political turmoil in his state.
With Gandhi not running for the top job, the party is poised to get a non-Gandhi president after more than 25 years.
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