In a veiled attack on Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who recently tweeted in support of veteran Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge’s candidacy, rival contender Shashi Tharoor said no party office-bearer is allowed to campaign for any candidate running for the top post in the party.
“There are clear instructions that no party office-bearer, Chief Minister or Pradesh Congress Committee chief should support or campaign for any candidate,” Mr Tharoor said at the party office in Bhopal on Friday.
Shashi Tharoor and Malllikarjun Kharge are the two candidates for the Congress presidential election that will be held on October 17. The Kerala MP was in Bhopal to seek support of local party leaders and delegates.
Mr Tharoor said it is up to the Central Election Authority (CEA), which is responsible to conduct fair and balanced elections within the party, to take action over Mr Gehlot’s remarks.
His remarks came a day after Ashok Gehlot put up a video on Twitter in support of Mallikarjun Kharge hoping that delegates would elect him as the new party chief.
“Mr Kharge has a connection with party workers and leaders, and can hold dialogue with all opposition parties, which is needed today. I hope all delegates will help Mallikarjun Kharge succeed with a huge majority,” Mr Gehlot said in a video message on his Twitter account.
मैं उम्मीद करता हूं जो भी डेलीगेट हैं वो भारी बहुमत से श्री मल्लिकार्जुन खड़गे को कामयाब करेंगे।कामयाब होने के बाद में वो हम सबका मार्गदर्शन करेंगे व कांग्रेस मजबूत होकर प्रतिपक्ष के रूप में उभर कर सामने आएगी।यह मेरी सोच है, मेरी शुभकामनाएं है खड़गे साहब भारी मतों से कामयाब हों। pic.twitter.com/OQ4Nk8zFKa
— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) October 13, 2022
Mr Gehlot posted the video after Mr Tharoor alleged “Uneven Playing Field” as the party elects its first non-Gandhi chief in over 20 years.
“There are certainly aspects that imply an uneven playing field,” Mr Tharoor said, revealing that some leaders had told him they were “under pressure” to back Mr Kharge.
He also said that state party chiefs had been “unavailable” during his campaign for the internal polls in various states.
“I have seen in many places, the PCC (Pradesh Congress Chief), CLP (Congress Legislature Party) leaders and big leaders welcome Mallikarjun Kharge, sit with him, invite people and tell them to be present. All this happened for one candidate but never for me,” Mr Tharoor said.
Not just Mr Gehlot, but Manish Tewari, who is a part of the G-23 group (seeking reforms within Congress), too extended his support to Mr Kharge’s candidature.
Manish Tewari had earlier said that the party needs a “safe pair of hands” and a “composed personality” in the form of Mallikarjun Kharge who can provide “stability” to the party as the president.