Veteran politician Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday swept the party’s presidential polls paving the way for him to become the first non-Gandhi chief of Congress party in over two decades.
Chairman of the party’s Central Election Committee (CEC) Madhusudan Mistry today declared Mallikarjun Kharge as the elected President of the party.
“The total counted votes were 9,385, of which Mallikarjun Kharge received 7,897 votes and Shashi Tharoor received 1,072 votes. 416 were invalid votes. As per Article 18 (D) of the Constitution of Indian National, I hereby declare Mallikarjun Kharge as the elected President of Congress,” said Mistry.
Kharge’s opponent conceded defeat and went to the New Delhi residence of the Congress President-elect to congratulate him on his victory.
Tharoor said he believed “the revival of the party begins today”. “It is a great honour and a huge responsibility to be President of the INC and I wish Kharge ji all success in the task,” the MP from Thiruvananthapuram tweeted.
Before the results were announced, party leader Rahul Gandhi during a press conference apparently jumped the gun and referred to Kharge as the party president.
“I can’t comment on Congress President’s role, that’s for Mr Kharge (party’s Presidential candidate) to comment on. The President will decide what my role is…and where I will be deployed ask Kharge ji, Sonia ji,” said the Congress MP in Kurnool amid the Andhra Pradesh leg of Bharat Jodo Yatra.
Meanwhile, other leaders of the party congratulated Kharge on his victory.
Party leader Jairam Ramesh said that Kharge’s victory is a triumph for the forces who place ideological commitment over personal glory.
“Mallikarjun Kharge has completed 50 years in electoral politics. He has distinguished himself as a legislator and Minister in the state and at the Centre.
He is a shining symbol of social empowerment inspired by Nehru, Ambedkar, Indira Gandhi and Devaraj Urs,” Ramesh said in a tweet.
He further said that Kharge has always avoided flamboyance and has been the quintessential organization man working in a self-effacing manner to advance the collective interests of the Congress party.
He has the good wishes of all Congressmen and Congresswomen, he added.
Rajasthan Cong leader Sachin Pilot greeted Kharge and said that he has faith that the latter’s experience will benefit the party.
“Mallikarjun Kharge won with a huge majority; a win of democracy. I congratulated him. I’ve faith his experience will benefit the party…9000 elected people elected the President, this was never done before by any party. Opposition must be nervous today,” said Pilot.
Congress leader Pramod Tiwari said that Kharge has won with eight times more votes than Tharoor.
“Mallikarjun Kharge wins the Congress presidential elections with 7897 votes, Shashi Tharoor got about 1000 votes. Kharge has won with 8 times more votes,” said Tiwari.
For the first time in 24 years, the party has got a chief who does not belong to the Nehru-Gandhi family.
The new president will take place of Sonia Gandhi who has been serving as interim president after Rahul Gandhi stepped down from the post following the party’s debacle in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Congress sources also said the elected president will take charge after Diwali in the presence of senior leaders in a programme at the Congress headquarters.
Meanwhile, ahead of the declaration of results for the party’s top post, the Shashi Tharoor camp approached the party’s election authority alleging that it suspected “extremely serious irregularities” in Uttar Pradesh on the day of the polling and demanded that all votes from the state be deemed invalid.
In a letter to Congress Central Authority Chairman Madhusudan Mistry, Salman Soz the election agent to Tharoor wrote about “disturbing facts” including “reports of minor violations” guidelines in a few states including Uttar Pradesh during the polling on Monday.
The ex-Member of Parliament (MP) Salman Anees Soz in his letter underlined that they had no evidence that Mallikarjun Kharge was aware of how his supporters were engaging in electoral malpractice in Uttar Pradesh.
Incidentally, Uttar Pradesh has the largest number of Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates.