New Delhi: Set for a face-off with Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge for the party president's post, Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor on Sunday said he is open to the idea of a public debate between the candidates as it would stoke people's interest in the party.
Asked about Mr Tharoor's remarks, Mr Kharge, however, said the two leaders belong to the same family and there was no point in holding such a debate.
"I don't want to get into that, I only know how to work, give me an opportunity to do that," the former Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha said, adding that they don't have to fight each other as their struggle is against the BJP.
In an interview with the Press Trust of India, Mr Tharoor also said the Nehru-Gandhi family has held and will always hold a special place in the hearts of Congress members.
He said the answer to the party’s current challenges lies in a combination of effective leadership and organisational reforms.
Mr Kharge said he had told Mr Tharoor it would be better to have a consensus candidate, but the Lok Sabha member insisted on a contest for the "sake of democracy".
Mr Kharge said if he became the party chief, he would consult the Gandhi family and other senior leaders and implement the good things suggested by them, but rejected the charge that he is the "official candidate" backed by the Gandhis.
Launching his poll campaign with a press conference at his residence here, the 80-year-old said there is no G-23 camp now and all those leaders want to jointly fight the RSS-BJP and are therefore supporting him.
Dissident leaders such as Bhupinder Hooda, Anand Sharma, Manish Tewari and Prithviraj Chavan of the group of 23 party seniors who had written to interim chief Sonia Gandhi in 2020 for large-scale organisational reform, have thrown their weight behind Mr Kharge instead of backing Mr Tharoor who was a prominent member of the group.