Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was asked by some party leaders to seek withdrawal of Shashi Tharoor's candidature, the Thiruvananthapuram MP, who has made an aggressive bid to its top post, claimed on October 4.
Mr. Tharoor, who is in Kerala as part of the poll campaign, told reporters that Mr. Gandhi said he will not ask the former to withdraw as a contest would benefit the grand old party.
"He reminded me that he has been saying so for the past 10 years that there should be a contest for the party chief's post.
"He also told me that some persons have asked him to request me to withdraw my candidature. He told me he will not do so. He said I should not withdraw and that I should contest in the election," the Thiruvananthapuram MP said.
Earlier in the day, he said that he never expected big leaders to support him and does not expect it even now, but at the same time he needs everyone's backing.
The statement came in the wake of Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president K. Sudhakaran publicly declaring his support for veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge for the party chief's post.
Also Read | Congress leaders ‘cold shoulder’ Shashi Tharoor
Mr. Tharoor also said he was not going to betray those who supported him till now in this endeavour of his by backing off from the election.
The election circular issued by the party on Monday said that AICC general secretaries/ in-charges, secretaries, joint secretaries, Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) presidents, Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leaders, heads of frontal organisations, chiefs of departments, cells and all official spokespersons "shall not campaign for or against contesting candidates."
"If they wish to support any candidate, they must first resign from their organisational post, after that they participate in the campaign process," it said.
The polling for the Congress presidential election will be held on October 17. The counting of votes will be taken up on October 19 and the results will be declared the same day.
More than 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates will vote in the poll.