As the Congress gears up to hold elections for its top post next week, a discussion has now started if a level-playing field being offered for both the competitors – Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor. In response to a question on Thursday, Tharoor – at a press briefing – said that “there might have been some defects in the system as polls have not happened for 22 years”. “The problem is that (presidential) elections have not occurred in our party for 22 years. For that reason, some lapses may have been there. I am very sure that the top leaders are attempting to hold free and fair elections,” the 66-year-old leader told reporters. “While I have already released a manifesto, what I am attempting is to reach out to delegates.”
The Congress is set to hold the elections for the president’s post on October 17. Initially, a crisis in Rajasthan had created a shaded area, which was followed by Ashok Gehlot pulling out of his candidature. Now, as Congress eyes the 2024 national elections amid its mass contact program of Bharat Jodo Yatra, questions are being raised if Kharge has been backed by the Gandhis. But both the candidates have denied these claims.
Tharoor, digging deeper on the obvious distinction of treatment being given to both the candidates, on Thursday said: “When I spoke about the level-playing field in the recent past, what I was alluding to is that some leaders of the Pradesh Congress Committees have been welcoming Kharge Sahab, it has been happening. They have called others to support him (amid the campaign). I know that the vote of an ordinary (Congress) worker and that of a senior leader have equivalent worth. So, I am not saying that it will have much impact on me. But if you are asking about the level-playing field, do you not see a difference in treatment?”.
However, when asked to share his comment, Kharge had a casual reaction. “Let’s not make comments that raise differences. We are both brothers. We are at the same party. While he can present his views differently, I can do that as well. There are no differences here. I don’t have a habit of complaining,” Kharge said, speaking to the media agency ANI.
Instead, he targeted the BJP. “We both should raise objections with the ruling party… with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. Whether it’s about inflation, unemployment, or depreciation of the rupee. we have to fight for the issues that are affecting people. I don’t want to get into claims of who is being supported and how,” he said.