Congress presidential poll candidate Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday stated that he believed in "collective leadership" and would work with all members to take the party to new heights.
Addressing Congress members of the northeast here, Kharge said that his primary aim would be to implement the 'Udaipur Declaration' and bring in 'new blood' in the party by appointing people less than 50 years of age, including women and those belonging to OBCs, SCs and STs.
"I believe in consultation and collective leadership... I don't believe in people following me but want them to walk beside me. Together, we will work to strengthen the organisational set-up of the party," he said.
The Rajya Sabha MP said that Sonia Gandhi had called him to her house and asked him to lead the Congress. "I told her that I can suggest three names but she said that she was not asking for names and asked me to lead the party," the MP maintained.
Kharge said that he agreed to contest the poll as no member of the Gandhi family was willing to take over as the party president. "The contest is being held as both Sonia and Rahul Gandhi had promised a democratic process, with delegates getting to elect the president," he said.
He urged party members to be united in their fight against the BJP,"“whose objective is to divide the country and the opposition by using central agencies". "The Congress has to protect the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru, which was earlier taken forward by Indira and Rajiv Gandhi.
"It is our duty to listen to Sonia Gandhi who has knowledge and experience after being at the helm of the party for 20 years,” he added.
Kharge arrived here on Monday evening and was received at the airport by the party's state unit president, Bhupen Bora, Congress Legislature Party leader Debabrata Saikia, Lok Sabha MPs Gaurav Gogoi and Abdul Khaleque and other senior state leaders.
He first met Congress leaders from Manipur, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Meghalaya and discussed several issues with them, a party spokesperson said. In the second meeting, the Rajya Sabha MP met senior Congress leaders from Assam.
Besides Kharge, Congress MP from Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor is in the race for the post.
(With PTI Inputs)