Polling ended at Congress party offices across the country on Monday for the election to the post of the president of All India Congress Committee (AICC)
Congress members queued up across the country on Monday to elect their first non-Gandhi president in 24 years, choosing between senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor in an exercise aimed at putting the party on the path to revival.
Voting was held smoothly and there are no complaints so far on polling from anywhere.
Party election panel chairman Madhusudan Mistry informed that about 9,500 delegates cast their votes in the Congress presidential polls. The turnout was 96 per cent.
While Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, voted in Delhi, Rahul Gandhi, who is on the Bharat Jodo Yatra, did so at a meeting room container converted into a polling booth at the yatra campsite in Ballari in Karnataka
Kharge vs Tharoor
Kharge, 80, a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka tipped to win the election because of his proximity to the Gandhis, cast his ballot at the Karnataka Congress office in Bengaluru. His electoral rival, the party’s 66-year-old Thiruvananthapuram MP Tharoor, who has pitched himself as the candidate of change, voted in the Kerala capital.
Kharge said in Bengaluru that Tharoor called him up and wished him good luck and he wished him the same. The two, he said on Twitter, were contesting internal polls on a friendly note to strengthen the Congress to build a stronger and better nation for the future generations.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor said he is confident of victory even though the odds were stacked against him as leaders and establishment were with the other candidate.
“India needs a strong Congress. I did not contest for my political future, but for that of the Congress and India. I am here as a viable alternative. I am standing for change. A change in how the party functions,” he said.
“Spoke to Mallikarjun Kharge this morning to wish him well and to reaffirm my respect for him and our shared devotion to the success of Congress,” Tharoor addedin a tweet, noting that the Congress’ revival had begun.
Earlier in the morning he said, “Some people play safe in order not to lose. But if you just play safe, you will definitely lose”, using the hashtag “#ThinkTomorrowThinkTharoor”.
The last contested election for the post of Congress president
The last contested election for the post of Congress president was in 2000 when Sonia Gandhi handed Jitendra Prasada a crushing defeat.
The Nehru-Gandhi family has been at the helm of the party for about 40 years in years since Independence. The five family members to take on the mantle of party president are Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.