NEW DELHI, Oct 19
The Congress party elected veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge as its first non-Gandhi president in 24 years on Wednesday. Out of the 9,385 votes polled in the Congress presidential polls, Mallikarjun Kharge got 7,897 votes, Shashi Tharoor secured 1,072 votes, and 416 votes were declared invalid, the party's Central Election Authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry said.
Kharge won with eight times more votes.
Tharoor congratulated Kharge in a letter saying, "Our new president is a party colleague and senior who brings ample leadership and experience to the table."
Kharge will replace Sonia Gandhi, the longest-serving party president who has been at the helm since 1998, barring the two years between 2017 and 2019 when Rahul Gandhi had taken over.
MP Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the president was the 'supreme authority' in the Congress and whoever got elected to the post would decide on the way forward (for the party). "President is the supreme authority in the Congress and everyone reports to him. My role - I am very clear - Congress president will decide what my role is and how I will be deployed," he remarked as Bharat Jodo Yatra entered Andhra Pradesh.
Congress central election authority chairman Mistry on Monday expressed satisfaction with the party's presidential polls process, saying it was "free, fair and transparent". He also said it was a secret ballot and no one would get to know who voted for whom.
Of the total 9,915 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates that formed the electoral college to pick the party chief in a secret ballot, over 9,500 cast their ballot at PCC offices and the AICC headquarters, Mistry had said at a press conference after the polling ended on Monday.
Electors in the Congress presidential polls had been asked to put a tick mark against their candidate in the ballot paper after Tharoor's team took up with the party's top poll body the issue of its earlier directive that voters write "1" to reflect their preference. This, the team said, might lead to confusion.
Ahead of the polling, Kharge had said he would have no shame in taking the advice and support of the Gandhi family in running the party affairs, if he becomes its president.
Tharoor, on his part, took a veiled dig at some senior leaders supporting Kharge, saying that some colleagues were "indulging in 'netagiri' and telling party workers that they know who Sonia Gandhi wants elected".
The New Indian Express (With inputs from PTI)