The party has kickstarted the election process and will open the window for nominations on Saturday.
“Gandhi is young and has an ideological clarity. He has the ability to take the party ahead,” the senior Congress leader from Karnataka told media persons in Kalaburgi. His comments on Rahul Gandhi were his personal view, he added.
Kharge ruled out contesting the AICC chief’s election, saying he believed only Gandhi could successfully lead the party. He, however, added that he would discharge any responsibility the party wished to assign him.
Kharge’s refusal to join the race leaves only Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor in the list of aspirants, as of now. A clear picture on contestants will emerge only after September 30, the last day for filing nominations. The AICC will hold the polls on October 17 if a consensus candidate does not emerge by October 8, the last date for withdrawal of nominations.
Kharge said he met Sonia Gandhi on September 16 and discussed the elections and tried to persuade the family. But she stuck to her stand that nobody from the family should become president. He said he still felt Gandhi should change his mind and agree to lead the party.
Sonia Gandhi has remained neutral although Gehlot and Tharoor have met her and expressed a desire to contest.