New Delhi, October 17
The Congress will vote today to elect the first non-Gandhi president in 24 years, as the party gears for the fifth major election in its 137-year-old history and only the first such election in the past 20 years.
Will fight BJP-RSS: M Kharge
It’s my duty to strengthen the organisation & fight vindictive policies of the BJP-RSS.
Against status quo: Shashi Tharoor
No problem with our ideology, but I want to bring a change in our way of working.
9,300 delegates | result on Oct 19
- Nearly 9,300 PCC delegates to vote through secret ballot
- Rahul to vote at ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ campsite in Karnataka
- Sonia and Priyanka at polling booth at AICC headquarters
- Electors to put a tick mark against name of their choice
- Ballot boxes to reach Delhi on Oct 18, result on Oct 19
5th major poll
- 1939: Subhas Chandra Bose defeats Pattabhi Sitaramayya
- 1950: Purushottam Das Tandon beats JB Kripalani
- 1997: Sitaram Kesri defeats Sharad Pawar & Rajesh Pilot
- 2000: Sonia Gandhi defeats Jitendra Prasad
(For most part in-between party chief was nominee of PM (also from party)
Today's election will see a direct contest between 80-year-old Karnataka veteran Mallikarjun Kharge and 66-year-old former UN diplomat-turned-politician Shashi Tharoor. The result will be declared on October 19.
The last election for the post was held in 2000 when Sonia Gandhi defeated Jitendra Prasad, winning 7,448 votes against the latter’s 94.
Though incumbent party president Sonia has pledged neutrality in the election and the Congress has maintained that there is no official candidate, Kharge is clearly poised to win with all Gandhi loyalists on his list of proposers — AK Antony, Ambika Soni, Ashok Gehlot, Abhishek Singhvi, Digvijay Singh, Salman Khurshid and Ajay Maken to name a few. Kharge also has the backing of pro-reform group G23 of which Tharoor is a part. Kharge has, however, said the G23 “does not exist any longer as everyone is backing him”.
Tharoor, who faces an uphill task today, has complained of the absence of a level-playing field in the campaign, and is banking on the “promise of change” versus Kharge’s “status quo”.
The sitting Thiruvananthapuram MP ignored calls from G23 colleagues like Manish Tewari to settle for a consensus in favour of Kharge and argued that “an election would strengthen the organisation”. All top leaders, Kharge included, attempted hard to forge consensus on the Congress President’s post with Kharge even stating that he had urged Tharoor to reach an agreement but the latter declined. AICC general secretary Jairam Ramesh has reiterated the worth of consensus with the majority of Congress leaders describing “Kharge’s victory a foregone conclusion”. But there are apprehensions that Kharge, a professed Sonia loyalist, would be “remote-controlled” by the Gandhis.
Although Sonia and Rahul have dismissed the insinuations as “insulting to both candidates“, the latent view in the party is that Kharge is an establishment face and was promoted because he would not rock the Gandhi boat.
Nearly 9,300 Pradesh Congress Committee delegates, who form the electoral college, will vote in the election through a secret ballot at 65 polling booths across states and Union Territories tomorrow.
Rahul will vote at “Bharat Jodo Yatra” campsite in Karnataka’s Sanganakallu, Ballari, alongside 40 yatris who are also PCC delegates. A polling booth has also been set up at AICC headquarters where Sonia and Priyanka and members of the Congress Working Committee are expected to vote.
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