India: Congress party to elect non-Gandhi leader today

The voting will be done between 10am and 4pm on Monday, after which the results will be declared on Wednesday, October 19

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At least 9,200 Congress Party delegates are all set to elect their ideal candidate today among the two parliamentarians — Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge — vying for the party’s top post.

The voting will be done between 10am and 4pm on Monday, after which the results will be declared on Wednesday, October 19.

“The delegates from all states will vote at their respective polling stations with a ‘tick’ mark for the candidate they support. Arrangements have been made for smooth polling,” said Central Election Authority Chairman of Congress Madhusudan Mistry.

“Ballot boxes will reach Delhi on October 18, and the counting of votes will be done on October 19. Polling booth set up at AICC as well, where over 50 people will vote. The whole polling process will be fair and free, no doubt about that,” he added.

It is not the first time, however, that a non-Gandhi leader is contesting for the party presidency post-Independence. Jitendra Prasad contested for the post about 22 years ago against Sonia Gandhi, in which the latter emerged as a winner, holding the mantle of the party for 20 years.

Sonia Gandhi is the longest-serving president of the party, having held the office for over twenty years from 1998 to 2017, and since 2019. This time no member of the Gandhi family is contesting for the post of President. In the 2017 elections, Rahul Gandhi became the president (without opposition).

This is the sixth time in its nearly 137-year-old history that polls will be held to elect the President of the party.

“There’s no problem with our ideology, but I want to bring a change in our way of work … Mallikarjun Kharge is an experienced leader; if he wins, we’ll work in cooperation naturally,” Congress Presidential candidate Shashi Tharoor said, ahead of the polls today.

Apart from the Congress headquarters in the states, the voting facilities will also be available at the party’s central headquarters, at 24 Akbar Road.

In Delhi, those delegates — who have obtained prior permission from the Central Election Authority to cast their vote in Delhi instead of their own state — can cast their vote there.

Congress’ Working Committee members including Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh, Priyanka Gandhi, and some senior leaders will vote in the booth at the Congress headquarters.

About 40 delegates involved in the Bharat Jodo Yatra, including Rahul Gandhi, will be able to cast their vote in the camp itself.

A polling station is being set up at the Sanganakallu campsite in Bellary. The two contestants Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge will cast their own votes in their respective state’s headquarters: Thiruvananthapuram and Bengaluru.

After voting, the ballot boxes from all the states will be brought back to Delhi, where the results will be announced after the counting of votes on October 19.

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