Sat, 10 December 2022
The Daily Ittefaq

Mallikarjun Kharge becomes new Congress chief

Update : 19 Oct 2022, 15:41

The Congress has a new president, Mallikarjun Kharge, the first non-Gandhi to lead the party in 24 years.

Mr Kharge, 80, widely seen to be the "Gandhi-approved" candidate in a contest against Shashi Tharoor, won 84 per cent of the votes cast on Monday, reports NDTV.

Though the Congress veteran made a last-minute entry into the contest, his landslide victory was never in doubt.

He won 7,897 votes while Shashi Tharoor finished with 1,072.

Even before the results were announced, the confirmation came from Rahul Gandhi at a press conference in Andhra Pradesh.

"I can't comment on the Congress president's role, that's for Mr Kharge to comment on," Rahul Gandhi said when asked by at least twice about what the new president will do while he remains the face of the party.

"I am very clear as far as my role is concerned. The president will decide what my role is and how I am to be deployed... that you have to ask Kharge ji and Sonia ji," he said.

When the results were announced shortly after, celebrations erupted at the Congress office, the kind not seen in years as the party suffered defeat after defeat.

Mr Kharge, who is close to the Gandhis, has promised reforms but few expect radical changes on his watch.

His rival Shashi Tharoor built his campaign around change but lost, as expected.

He said the elections, irrespective of the outcome, had "ultimately strengthened the party".

"I look forward to working with Congress colleagues to face the challenges ahead. I believe the revival of our party has truly begun today," Mr Tharoor said in a statement.

Soon after the counting of votes began this morning, Mr Tharoor had alleged "extremely serious irregularities" in the election process. In a sharp letter, his team asked for the votes in Uttar Pradesh to be cancelled. However, Mr Tharoor later withdrew the demand and said, "Let's move on", regretting that the letter was leaked.

The Gandhis, blamed for the party's inability to win elections, stayed out of the contest and insisted that the new Congress chief should be someone outside their family.

Since Independence, the Congress has mostly been led by a member of the Gandhi family, who were elected unanimously. Elections were held only six times as there was more than one candidate - starting in 1939 when P Sitaramayya, backed by Mahatma Gandhi, lost to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.

Mr Kharge takes over from Sonia Gandhi, who agreed to temporarily lead the party when Rahul Gandhi stepped down in 2019, taking responsibility for successive general election defeats.

More on this topic

More on this topic