Mallikarjun Kharge has defeated Shashi Tharoor with a massive margin in the Congress Presidential election. With this, Kharge became the first non-Gandhi president of Congress after 24 years. As many as 9,500 delegates voted in the election and a voter turnout of 96 per cent was recorded.
Mallikarjun Kharge won the elections with 7897 votes and Shashi Tharoor got about 1000 votes while 416 votes were rejected.
The counting of the votes, which was scheduled to begin at 10 am at the AICC headquarters, started around 10:20 am. All sealed ballot boxes from the 68 polling booths set up across the country had been brought to the party office by Tuesday evening and kept in a “strong room” at the party office.
Asked about reports of complaints related to polling in Uttar Pradesh and some other states, Tharoor campaign team member Salman Soz said they have raised certain issues with the central election authority (CEA) and have been in communication with CEA chairman Madhusudan Mistry “before polling, on polling day and after that”.
The polls are historic as the new president would 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.
Congress central election authority chairman Mistry has expressed satisfaction with the party’s presidential polls process, saying it was “free, fair and transparent”. He has 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”.