Senior Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi on Saturday urged party leaders to refrain from commenting on their colleagues applying for the post of AICC president and said "fair-minded democratic free speech values" that the party has championed must be maintained.
Earlier, Congress General Secretary In-charge, Communications, Jairam Ramesh had asked the party spokespersons and the Communications department office-bearers to refrain from commenting on any colleague contesting the elections.
"Completely agree with Jairam Ramesh. Fellow congressmen should refrain from commenting on their party colleagues applying for the post of Congress President," Mr Singhvi tweeted.
Completely agree with Jairam Ramesh. Fellow congressmen should refrain from commenting on their party colleagues applying for the post of Congress President. We must maintain the fair minded democratic free speech values that the party has always championed.— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) September 24, 2022
"We must maintain the fair minded democratic free speech values that the party has always championed," he said.
This comes after party leader Gourav Vallabh taunted Shashi Tharoor over his probable bid to the post of All India Congress Committee (AICC) president.
In the first indicator of leaders taking sides in the run-up to the contest, Mr Vallabh had also voiced support for Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who many believe has the backing of the current leadership.
According to sources, Mr Ramesh had sent across a message to the party leaders to "refrain from making any comment of any kind on any colleague... contesting the elections...".
Though Mr Vallabh is also a party spokesperson, he asserted that he made his comments as a Congress worker and not spokesperson.
"Like crores of workers, my first wish is that Rahul Gandhi ji should provide his leadership to the Congress and the country. But if he remains steadfast on his decision (of not taking up the Congress chief post) and one has to choose between the two names that are appearing in public discussion, then there is no comparison between the two," Mr Vallabh had said in a series of tweets in Hindi.
On the one hand, there is Mr Gehlot who has been a Union minister, thrice chief minister, five times MP, five times MLA, has defeated Narendra Modi-Amit Shah in a direct contest, and has had 45 years of "spotless" political life, he said.
"On the other hand, there is Shashi Tharoor sahib who has made only one major contribution to the party in the last eight years -- sent letters to Congress president Sonia Gandhi ji when she was hospitalised, this act caused pain to crores of party workers like me. The choice is very simple and clear," he had said.
Mr Vallabh's remarks were a reference to the letter sent by a group of 23 leaders, including Mr Tharoor, to Sonia Gandhi in 2020 seeking large-scale reforms in the party.
After over two decades, the Congress is set to see a contest for the post of party chief. Mr Gehlot, who has announced his candidature, and Mr Tharoor are being seen as the likely contenders.
The Congress' central election authority on Thursday issued a notification for the polls, setting the ball rolling for electing the successor to Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving party chief.
Mr Tharoor on Monday had met Sonia Gandhi and expressed his intention to contest the upcoming AICC chief polls, while the Congress president conveyed that she would stay "neutral" in the elections, according to sources.
Sonia Gandhi welcomed the idea of more people contesting the polls and dispelled the notion that there would be an "official candidate".
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)