Shashi Tharoor may run for Congress president, reports said today, citing his article calling for “free and fair election” for the party chief’s post.
Mr Tharoor did not confirm or deny the report when reporters asked him whether he would contest the October election.
“I have no comment to make. I accept what I’ve written in my article, which is that an election would be a good thing for the Congress party,” the former Union Minister said, referring to his article in the Malayalam daily “Mathrubhumi”.
Reports said Mr Tharoor, an MP from Thiruvananthapuram, is “exploring the possibility” of running for Congress president but has yet to take a final call on it. “He has not made up his mind, but could take a call on it soon,” said sources quoted by Press Trust of India.
In the article, Mr Tharoor said the “the leadership vacuum at the top” had a damaging effect within the party.
He called the election of a “fresh president” the start towards the revitalisation the Congress badly needs.
Mr Tharoor said the election also had other benefits “for instance we have seen the global interest in the British Conservative Party during their recent leadership race, a phenomenon we already witnessed in 2019, when a dozen candidates contested to replace Theresa May, and Boris Johnson emerged on top”.
Similarly, the Congress polls would increase national interest in the party and “galvanise more voters towards the Congress party once again”, he suggested.
“For this reason, I hope that several candidates come forward to present themselves for consideration. Putting forward their visions for the party and the nation will surely stir public interest,” he wrote.
While the party as a whole is in need of renewal, he said, “the most urgent leadership position that needs to be filled is naturally that of the Congress president”.
“Given the current state of the party, the perception of crisis and the national picture, whoever assumes the mantle of president will undoubtedly need to achieve the twin goals of energising the Congress party workers and inspiring the voters. He or she should have a plan to fix what ails the party, as well as a vision for India. After all, a political party is an instrument to serve the country, not an end in itself,” he said.
“Either way, a free and fair election process would be a healthy way to go about settling the issue. It would legitimise the mandate being offered to the incoming president,” he said.
Mr Tharoor is a member of the “G-23” or 23 dissenters who wrote to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 urging big reforms including a leadership overhaul to salvage the Congress.
The party will elect a new president on October 17, and with both interim chief Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi – a former president – refusing to contest, speculation is swirling around non-Gandhi options. The new chief will be known on October 19.
Ghulam Nabi Azad, who led the “G-23”, quit the party on Friday, with a five-page resignation letter targeting Rahul Gandhi and doubting the credibility of the internal election. Kapil Sibal, another prominent “rebel” quit in May.
“The exit of valued colleagues does not help. I personally regret these departures, because I would have wanted these friends to stay in the party and continue to fight to reform it,” he said.
“As a signatory of the so-called ‘G-23’ letter, I should say that it reflected concerns building up over many months among party members and well-wishers who wanted a re-energised Congress. These concerns were about the party’s functioning not its ideology or values. Our only intention was to strengthen and revive the party, not to divide or weaken it,” Mr Tharoor wrote.