Mallikarjun Kharge: We can’t operate without Gandhis, we must take guidance from them
As the frontrunner in the Congress leadership race, Mallikarjun Kharge said Thursday that he may not consult the Nehru-Gandhi family on every decision but would seek their “guidance” and “suggestions”, pointing out that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have experience leading the party.
He stated that there was no shame to be embarrassed about asking for their advice because they believed in a group approach rather than an individualistic method of operating.
In an interview with The Deccan Era, amid campaigns for the election on October 17, Kharge said Sonia is an “key player” within the Congress and that the party can’t function without the direction and guidance from the Gandhis. However, he was not certain if his presidency will see election to members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) after 25 years, saying he will take his direction from the consensus spirit. Priority for him is, he stated, to implement the organizational reforms made public at the Chintan Shivir at Udaipur.
Kharge’s rival, Shashi Tharoor, said there was no fair playing field. The Tharoor campaign had previously approached the electoral authority, led by Madhusudan Mistry, bringing attention to state party presidents who had violated guidelines by publicly praising Kharge’s candidacy and making to discrepancies among the lists of PCC delegate members who comprise the electoral council.
Kharge stated that, when he became Congress President, he would “take all people in confidence” and address issues where there is agreement. “I will seek cooperation from everyone. If somebody refuses to cooperate, that’s an entirely different matter. My goal is to get everyone involved… That’s following the (Congress president) election. My current manifesto is the direction that has already been provided, we need to implement it first in order to make a the change,” he said.
If asked how a Gandhi-free presidency could work, he replied: “Without the Gandhis, you won’t (operate )… you have to follow their advice. They’ve given up their lives for our nation. And even the positions (they have ) they’ve taken )… in the past) when Mrs. (Sonia) Gandhi got a majority, a lot of people wanted her to be the head of the government. She didn’t. We are fighting for a few races, and even small post …”
When asked whether he would consult with the Gandhis before making any decision, Kharge said: “It isn’t necessary each (time). But the extensive time experience Sonia Gandhi, 20 years as the party’s President… 2 years with Rahul Gandhi… the two are familiar with the people from every corner and nook of the nation… There are achieved great things such as that of the Food Security Act as well as compulsory education, NREGA, RTI, all these Acts were introduced from Sonia… Do you think I shouldn’t get advice from her? She is an important participant of Congress. It’s not (about) only the family unit, but the an ideology that is rooted in… as well as her work and beliefs have contributed to the nation’s peace, equality, and liberty.”
If he is facing pressure to declare that he is independent, the president replied: “The question of asserting or not asserting , doesn’t come up. To manage the party effectively and to build the party If we need guidance or suggestions are needed, we will listen to them. We will also be able to approach (them) as well”.
In the meantime, when asked if believed there was a level play field Tharoor when addressing at a press conference held on the Delhi Congress headquarters, said: “I have nothing against (Madhusudan) Mistry. We are all aware of certain flaws within the current system. In all reality, elections have not been held for over 22 years. We received the liste (of PCC delegates) on September 10th and received another list on Wednesday. The first list didn’t include telephone addresses… We then received the phone numbers, but there was a gap between this two list… The gaps existed. I’m not complaining about it being done intentionally. The issue is that the elections weren’t scheduled for many years and a few mistakes slipped into.”
He stated that even though Mistry along with his staff tried to organize an “fair as well as free vote” however, it “is evident that there are some flaws within the electoral system.”
“In numerous places…you are likely to be able to have seen…PCC president, CLP chief and other major leaders have greeted Kharge Saab, have sat with him, and attendees have been invited to the meetings. Directions were issued by the PCC to show up and say Kharge Saab is in town… Naturally, the visit was only for one candidate. The decision was not made for me.”
“Many times, I was at the PCC… the president was not available at that time… Also, I was able to meet ordinary workers with joy. I’m not unhappy. I am aware of the importance of the votes of an average worker, and a large head is equal. So it doesn’t matter to me. But if you’re trying to determine whether there’s a fair playing field…do you believe there’s no difference in the manner of treatment.”
The authority for elections, in the meantime, issued another order. It stated that AICC general secretaries state in-charges joint secretaries, and secretaries of state should not cast votes in their state of assignment. “You are asked to vote in the state you reside in, or at an AICC office, based on your preference,” Mistry said in the letter.