All India Congress Committee (AICC) presidential candidate Shashi Tharoor said that there is a need to have a strong Congress party in the country to take on BJP at the Centre.
“We have lost two elections continuously, and come what may, we have to win the coming general elections. For that, there is a need for a strong party,” said Mr. Tharoor while addressing a press conference here on Monday.
Mr. Tharoor, contesting for the president post of the party, was here to campaign and seek support from the PCC delegates. He is taking on party senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge in the elections.
Former Union Minister M. Pallam Raju accompanied Mr. Tharoor to the press conference.
Speaking to reporters, Mr. Tharoor said that he will not withdraw from elections as it denotes ditching those who supported him.
No ‘G-23’ in Congress, says Tharoor
Referring to the ‘G-23’ leaders in the Congress, who purportedly wrote letters to the party high command, Mr. Tharoor said that there is no such grouping in the party.
“Let me make it clear that there is no such group. It’s the media idea. Couple of senior leader wrote the letter. They invited large number of people to support them. They told me that they have contacted over phone about 100 people to support them. At that time in 2020, there was COVID-19 lockdown. Only 23 people were available in Delhi to sign it, and that is why 23 people had signed it. It could have been more or it could have been less,” said Mr. Tharoor.
“I had seen the Gandhi family individually. They have stressed two things. The Gandhi family welcomed free and fair election and they think that the number of candidates contesting the election will strengthen the party. And at the same time, there will be no official candidate, and they will stay neutral. These are their words and they are telling this in a very friendly manner, not in hostile or critical way. There will be every option available to present our views to Congress colleagues,” said Mr. Tharoor.
Answering a question, he said the campaign might be in other ways like conversation and phone messages. “I am happy to say that I have lot of well-wishers from Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Let me stress. I am not going to withdraw despite my respect for Mr. Kharge, because to do so, is to betray the colleagues from across the country who came forward and urged me to contest the election in the first place,” said Mr Tharoor, adding that most of them are young and he will not let them down.