‘Was asked to fight Cong polls 18 hours before I filed papers’

Congress presidential candidate Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday said that he was asked to contest the election for the top party post less than 24 hours before he filed the nomination papers. Kharge, who proudly recalled his several decades’ old association with the party, underscored that he has entered the fray while holding the view that former Congress president Rahul Gandhi should have taken up the mantle. “I was asked to fight the presidential poll 18 hours before the filing of nomination papers. When I questioned why am I being asked to throw my hat in the ring, I learnt that Rahul Gandhi does not want any member from his family to occupy the top party post”, Kharge told a press conference at the Bihar Congress headquarters.Widely seen as the clear favourite, Kharge, added “I am of the belief that the party needs Rahul Gandhi and his leadership. He should have been the party president again. But I respect the nobility of his sentiments”.