New Delhi, October 1
There will be a direct contest between Mallikarjun Kharge (80) and Shashi Tharoor (66) for the post of Congress president with the papers of the third candidate, KN Tripathi, former Jharkhand MLA of the party, being rejected on Saturday following scrutiny.
Kharge sends LoP resignation to Sonia
- Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday sent his resignation from the post of the Leader of the Opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha to Sonia Gandhi in line with the ‘one person, one post] rule.
- Former MP CM Digvijay Singh could be Kharge’s replacement.
The chairman of the Congress Central Election Authority, Madhusudan Mistry, after the scrutiny committee meeting today, said the authority had received 20 nomination forms of which four had been rejected for variation and repetition of proposer signatures. All rejected forms pertained to Tripathi, Mistry said, announcing that there were now only two candidates in the fray for the party president’s post. “The last date for withdrawal is October 8. If no one withdraws, we will proceed with the formalities of voting and election,” said Mistry. The election, if required, will be held on October 17, a first in 22 years. As soon as the official notice was out, Tharoor exuded confidence in his campaign and said he was delighted to take on party heavyweight Kharge.
Part of his confidence appeared to stem from his list of 60 proposers, including Sonia Gandhi loyalist Mohsina Kidwai, also a member of the party’s central election committee which Gandhi herself chairs; sitting MPs Karti Chidambaram (Sivaganga, Tamil Nadu), MK Raghavan (Kozhikode, Kerala) and Pradyut Bordoloi (Nawgong, Assam) and former MP Sandeep Dikshit (the lone G-23 member to sign Tharoor’s form).
Interestingly, 10 Jammu and Kashmir Congress leaders, including former unit chief Saifuddin Soz and son Salman Soz, along with eight other senior leaders among whom are Fayaz Ahmed Dar, Fayaz Ahmed Mir, Nazir Ahmad Bhat, GN Ganie and Saahil Farooq Ahmed, have backed Tharoor. Former Punjab Congress chief Navjot Sidhu’s aide Smit Singh is also among the proposers of the Thiruvananthapuram MP for the top post.
Set to run despite pressures to rally behind rival, Tharoor today said, “I am delighted to learn that, following scrutiny, Kharge and I will be squaring off in the friendly contest for president of the Congress. May the party and all our colleagues benefit from this democratic process!”
A confident Tharoor even launched his campaign line “Think Tharoor, Think Tomorrow”, and said, “I have 60 nominees from 12 states, and all levels of leadership but all proud Congress workers.”
It remains to be seen if Tharoor can put up even a semblance of a fight in the upcoming election against Kharge, who is a clear unofficially official candidate backed by the Gandhis.
In the last Congress presidential election in 2000, Sonia Gandhi had got 7,448 delegate votes decimating rival Jitendra Prasad who got 94.
Kharge, a nine-time former Karnataka MLA and a three-time MP is now tipped to be the Congress president with a majority support in the 9,100-strong electoral college for the election.
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