Guwahati: Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge swept the party’s high-stakes presidential polls on Wednesday, paving the way for him to become the Congress’ first non-Gandhi president in over two decades.
While Kharge received 7,897 of the total 9,385 votes, his opponent, Shashi Tharoor, trailed behind with 1,072 votes.
Kharge will replace interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, who has been occupying the post ever since Rahul Gandhi stepped down after the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Earlier today, party leader Rahul Gandhi, in what appeared to be a slip of tongue, responded to a question referring to Kharge as the new Congress president. Meanwhile, on the eve of counting day, the Tharoor camp approached the election authority alleging that there were certain irregularities that took place during the election. The Tharoor camp is said to have claimed that there were irregularities in three states, including Uttar Pradesh, which has the largest number of PCC delegates. They alleged that in Uttar Pradesh ballot boxes were not sealed after polling was over, as per the guidelines issued by the authority.
While Kharge has been considered the Gandhi family’s ‘unofficial official candidate’ with a large number of senior leaders backing him, Tharoor pitched himself as the candidate of change. This will be the sixth time in its nearly 137-year-old history that an electoral contest would decide who would take up the mantle of the party’s president. The high-stakes contest between the two veteran leaders drew a massive turnout of voters Monday with close to 96 per cent of Pradesh Congress Committee delegates casting their ballot, according to the party. Of the 9,915 PCC delegates, 9,497 cast their votes across state capitals, including 87 at the AICC headquarters and 50 at the Yatra campsite, said Madhusudan Mistry, who is heading the party’s Central Election Authority (CEA).