G-23 members cave in, back Kharge in presidential polls

They ignore Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor who too was a member of G-23; Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan and Manish Tewari turn proposers of party veteran Kharge

September 30, 2022 10:29 pm | Updated October 01, 2022 09:42 am IST - New Delhi

Congress leaders Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Pawan Bansal, Rajeev Shukla, and others at AICC headquarters to show support for senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, in New Delhi on September 30, 2022.

Congress leaders Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Pawan Bansal, Rajeev Shukla, and others at AICC headquarters to show support for senior party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, in New Delhi on September 30, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Two years after raising the banner of revolt against the Congress party’s style of functioning, members of G-23 or the ginger group that pushed for internal reforms, on Friday backed veteran Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge, in the Congress presidential election against Lok Sabha member Shashi Tharoor, who too was a member of G-23.

The decision to back Mr. Kharge was taken after an informal meeting between Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan and Manish Tewari late on Thursday evening and all of them became his proposers.

Mr. Sharma and Mr. Tewari were among those leaders who had questioned the process of electing 9000-odd delegates who make up the electoral college of the Congress president.

“Leadership, Ideological clarity, narrative & transparent access to resources are pillars of ‘A’ political party. Given recent unfortunate events it’s time to close ranks & strengthen @INCIndia recalling wise words of @citznmukherjee & work for a Consensus & effective Presidency,” Mr. Tewari tweeted, quoting an extract from the late Pranab Mukherjee’s memoirs.

The extract that Mr. Tewari shared of Mukherjee’s memoir read, “Certain offices should not be sought. They should be offered. Congress presidency to be one such office...My efforts were always focused at having a unanimously chosen or consensus candidate for the office of Congress president.”

In their letter to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi in August 2020, G-23 leaders, however, had argued that the party should encourage elections at all levels — from block committees to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) to the All India Congress Committee (AICC) President — instead of the high command appointing office-bearers at district level.

“At least, this is a start and there is an election now for the AICC President and it will be followed up by an election to the CWC,” said another member of the group.

In Mr. Kharge’s nomination, the Congress seemed to have waived off the condition that was set for Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, about stepping down before filing his nomination, to follow the ‘one man one post’ principle.

Mr. Kharge though has indicated that he would resign from the LoP’s position soon as he doesn’t yet occupy two posts. Sources, however, said the resignation would happen once his replacement as the LoP was zeroed in and senior leaders Digvijaya Singh and P. Chidambaram are among the front runners.

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