'Not surprised establishment backing Mallikarjun Kharge': Shashi Tharoor
New Delhi: Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Friday asserted that he has a vision to strengthen the party which should be a vehicle for "change" as he filed his nomination for the party president poll.
Addressing a press conference after filing his papers, the former Union minister called his rival Mallikarjun Kharge, who is also contesting and is being seen as the favourite to win, 'Bhishma Pitamah' of the Congress.
"It is a friendly contest that is going to happen. We are not enemies or rivals. No disrespect to him but I will represent my ideas," the articulate and savvy Kerala MP told reporters.
Tharoor called Kharge, 80, a "candidate of continuity", an apparent reference to the impression that the Karnataka leader is the choice of the Gandhis.
"I am not surprised that the establishment is rallying behind the status quo. If you want the status quo, I think you should vote for Mr. Kharge. If you want change and progress with an eye to the rest of the 21st century, then I hope I will stand for that change," the Thiruvananthapuram MP said.
He also spoke at length in Hindi, an apparent attempt to emphasise his bilingual credentials. Both Tharoor and Kharge are from south India while a majority of party delegates, who will vote in the poll, are from Hindi-speaking states.
Tharoor also ruled out withdrawing from the contest, stressing that he has not taken the trouble of filing the nomination only to opt out later. He said he will not let down party workers supporting him.
"I have a vision for the Congress and I will share it with over 9,000 delegates and seek their support. My nomination papers reflect the wide range of support I have received. I have got signatures of party workers from a dozen states," he said.
"We hope to strengthen the Congress and take the country forward," he said.