Who Is New Congress President?: As the results of the party’s internal election are counted, the first non-Gandhi chief of the Congress will be named today. The veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge is facing Shashi Tharoor.
Congress headquarters in Delhi has begun counting sealed ballot boxes brought from across the country. A total of 96 percent of the 9,915 eligible leaders voted in Monday’s election, the Congress said.
Mallikarjun Kharge, a long-time loyalist of the Gandhi family, is seen as the front-runner in the race. However, this has given ammunition to critics who claim that if he wins, the Gandhis will control the party from afar.
The Congress has vehemently denied the possibility. It is being made every effort to ensure that it is a free and fair election, according to Jairam Ramesh, the party’s General Secretary-in-Charge of Communications.
Both Mr Kharge and Mr Tharoor have maintained that the Gandhis are neutral in this election. According to Mr Tharoor, however, “the odds are stacked against us as the party leaders and establishment were overwhelmingly behind the other candidate”.
Karti Chidambaram, one of the signatories to Mr Tharoor’s nomination, told NDTV there was deliberate misinformation spread about the Thiruvananthapuram MP. “Mr Tharoor will get significant votes,” he added.
After Rahul Gandhi stepped down three years ago, Sonia Gandhi temporarily led the party, taking responsibility for the two consecutive routs of the party in 2014 and 2019.
Multiple calls for change and hiccups in finding a candidate against Shashi Tharoor led to this election. Kharge entered the race at the last minute when Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot withdrew from the race even before it began, persuaded by Central leaders to do so.
In Rajasthan, Mr Gehlot’s candidacy went awry after his loyalist MLAs voted openly to prevent Sachin Pilot from succeeding him as Chief Minister.
Madhusudan Mistry, chairman of the Congress central election authority, called the election “free, fair, and transparent.”
Congress has been led by members of the Gandhi family since Independence. Only six elections were held since there were more than one candidate – starting in 1939 when Mahatma Gandhi’s ally P Sitaramayya lost to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
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