Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Friday asked a Kerala resident to withdraw an online campaign demanding that he be made the party’s prime ministerial candidate in the next general elections in 2019. While expressing his surprise and thanking those who supported it, Tharoor said he did not endorse the campaign, which had received 16,440 signatures on by 4 pm on Friday.

“I am a member of Parliament for the Congress Party, nothing more and nothing less. The party has a settled leadership, which is not up for debate. When changes occur they do so through an established procedure,” Tharoor said on Facebook. The Congress leader said he shared the aspirations of the petitioners “for a better India” which can be achieved through the “Indian National Congress and the values it enshrines”. ‘

“I will continue, to the best of my abilities, with my work in Parliament, in Thiruvananthapuram, and in articulating my hopes for India and the ideas that make India — on those party platforms that are available to me, as well as on the national and international stage and through my writings,” Tharoor said.

The petition says, “Shashi Tharoor is a man well qualified with deep knowledge of international and national issues, who can connect with the people of India and with world leaders.” It also outlines his work and that Tharoor had worked at the United Nations for more than 30 years.

The Congress has just won the Assembly elections in Punjab. It had also managed to win more seats than any other party in both Goa and Manipur, but the Bharatiya Janata Party is expected to form governments there in alliance with regional outfits. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi appeared to have passed the baton to her son Rahul Gandhi, who led the party’s campaigning for the recently-held elections. However, there has been much criticism about Rahul Gandhi’s handling of the party, and the party itself, especially after it missed out on forming the government in Goa and Manipur.