Rahul’s comment came as neither opted out of the race on the last day of withdrawal of nomination on Saturday, setting the stage for a week of whirlwind campaigning followed by voting on October 17. There were speculations that underdog Tharoor could pull out of the fray as Kharge emerged as the favoured candidate of the establishment.
Addressing a press conference in Karnataka, Rahul placed the two rivals at par, steering clear of the view that Kharge is the putative successor to Sonia Gandhi.
Asked about the impression that the next party chief would be remote controlled by the “first family”, Rahul said, “Both the people who are standing have a position, have a perspective, and are people of stature and understanding. Frankly, this tone is insulting to both of them.”
Rahul is the reason behind the AICC election in which no member of his family is in the fray. He had laid down the condition that the party find a successor from outside the Gandhi clan, after he quit the top post in the aftermath of Congress’s debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Since then, party members as well as the commentariat have been debating the autonomy of the new chief, especially since the Gandhi scion will continue to dominate the politics as the face of the party.