Shashi Tharoor wants to be ‘voice of youth’, says new Congress speaker won’t be ‘buffer’

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Congressman Shashi Tharoor, a candidate for party chairman, said on Saturday he wanted to be the voice of youth and stressed the importance given to party workers.

The Lok Sabha member from Thiruvananthapuram of Kerala is engaged in a ‘friendly’ competition with Mallikarjun Kharge for the top job.

Tharoor said he doesn’t think the new president will be a rubber stamp. If someone says the Gandhi family is unnecessary, then he is foolish, he said.

“There is friendly competition, we have different goals and are looking for support (in the congressional president’s polls). Many workers who want a change in the party have asked me to protest. I want to be the voice of young people. I will give a good account of myself,” Tharoor said in Nagpur.

“We respect great leaders, but it’s time to hear from the youth of the party. We will work to change the organizational structure of the party and this importance should be given to party workers,” he added.

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Tharoor said K Kharge’s confidence is good but he has the support of party workers in different states. “Mallikarjun Kharge’s confidence is good. I am also convinced that there are people who will listen to me too. Great leaders can naturally stand with other great party leaders, but with me there are party workers from different states,” he said.

Tharoor launched his campaign for the election of the party chairman by visiting the Deekshabhoomi monument in Nagpur, Maharashtra. He also said he was told by the Gandhi family that there was no “official” candidate for the election of party chairman and that they would remain neutral.

“I had met the three (Sonia, Rahul and Priyanka) of the Gandhi family. They told me several times that there was no official candidate for the election of the party president and that there there would be no such candidate. They want a good and fair election. The Gandhi family will be neutral and the party apparatus impartial. They want good elections and the party to be strengthened. I have no doubt when the party chairman assured me,” Tharoor replied when asked if Kharge was the Gandhi family’s choice and their preferred candidate.

The nomination process for the organizational elections began on September 24 and ended on September 30. Congress will hold polls to elect its president on October 17. The deadline for withdrawal of nominations is October 8 and votes will be counted on October 19.

Tharoor was one of the vocal voices of the G-23 Congress leaders who sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi demanding sweeping reforms in the party and transparency in the decision-making process.

“I will bring a new spirit to the party. It’s true that I was with the G23 group. Everyone knows that most of the G23 people are with Kharge,” he said.

Tharoor joined Congress in 2009 and is a three-time MP for Thiruvananthapuram. He is also the President of the All India Professional’s Congress (AIPC).

The Congressman said all opposition parties would come together for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and work on a common minimum platform.

Tharoor served as Union Minister twice for a brief period – from May 2009 to April 2010 as Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs and from October 2012 to May 2014 as MoS for Development human resources. He is the author of more than 20 books and has served the UN for nearly 30 years in various capacities.

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