Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday claimed that some Congress leaders had urged Rahul Gandhi to seek his withdrawal from the party’s presidential poll, PTI reported.

Tharoor, without taking any names, said that Gandhi, however, told him that he would not do so. “He [Gandhi] said I should not withdraw and that I should contest in the election,” he said.

Tharoor and Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge are contesting the election for the post of Congress president. The two leaders can withdraw their forms till October 8.

The election to decide the successor to the longest-serving party president Sonia Gandhi will take place on October 17. The results will be announced two days later.

On Tuesday, Tharoor said that he is not expecting support from “big leaders” of the party in the election.

“I was not expecting any support from the big leaders of the party and I am not expecting that now either,” he said, according to PTI. “In fact, I met party workers at Nagpur, Wardha and then Hyderabad. They are the ones asking me to contest and not back away from it.”

The Congress MP added that he will not betray those who have supported him so far. “Their confidence in me is what gives me the strength to move forward,” he said.

Tharoor’s remarks came a day after Kerala Congress president K Sudhakaran publicly declared his support for Kharge in the election.

Sudhakaran had said that Kharge’s experience at the organisational level, along with his popularity, would strengthen the Congress party, The New Indian Express reported.

In response, Tharoor, however, said that Sudhakaran probably expressed his personal preference and that there is nothing wrong with it.