Mallikarjun Kharge 'officially starts' campaigning for top post in Congress
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is one of the contenders for the party's top post, announced his "official start" to the election campaign on Sunday.
"The day I filed my nomination, I submitted resignation from my post, aligning with the 'One Person One Post' decision of the party taken in Udaipur. I officially begin my campaign for the post of Congress party president today," Kharge said while addressing a press conference with other three Congress leaders Gourav Vallabh, Deepender S Hooda and Syed Naseer Hussain, here.
Kharge tendered his resignation as the Leader of Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha on Saturday as he filed nomination papers to contest the post of president of his party a day before.
Gourav Vallabh also announced his resignation from the post of the official spokesperson of the party to campaign for Kharge in Congress' internal elections.
"All three of us (Congress leaders Gourav Vallabh, Deepender S Hooda and Syed Naseer Hussain) resigned from the post of official spokespersons to campaign for the election of Mallikarjun Kharge as party president and want this election to be free and fair," Vallabh said.
Notably, the 80-year-old leader had received support from nearly 30 Congress leaders, including Deepender Hooda, Salman Khurshid, Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh, Manish Tewari, Prithviraj Chavan, and several others.
Kharge is a known Gandhi family loyalist, who entered into the fray at the eleventh hour. Several top leaders, including from the G-23 faction flanked Kharge when he filed the nomination papers.
Congress Central Election Authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry said that a total of 20 nomination forms were received on Friday and added that the Gandhi family is not supporting any candidate for the party president's post.
Mistry added that 14 nominations were received from Mallikarjun Kharge, five from Shashi Tharoor and one from Jharkhand Congress leader KN Tripathi.
He said that the candidates were in the fray of their own volition and Gandhis are neutral in this contest and are not supporting anyone.
Apart from Kharge, G23 leader Shashi Tharoor has also filed his nomination for the post.
Tharoor on Saturday drew an analogy between the Gandhi family and the DNA of the party and said that no party chief can distance himself from the Gandhi family, asserting that he is contesting the party's presidential elections to bring a " change" in the grand old party.
He stressed that the contest between him and Kharge is "not a battle" and it should be left upon the Congress workers to choose between the duo.
Tharoor and Kharge are up against each other in the race for the post of Congress president.
Digvijaya Singh pulled out from the race on Friday (the last day to file nominations) and extended his support to Kharge, who he said is a senior and respected leader of the party, and against whom he "cannot think of contesting".
Singh was the second Congress leader to pull out of the race after Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot announced he would not contest the elections following the political turmoil in his state.
With the Gandhis not running for the top post, the grand old party is all set to get a non-Gandhi president after over 25 years.
The results of the party polls will be declared on October 19.