Congress Presidential Polls, Mallikarjun Kharge vs Shashi Tharoor: Counting Today


Congress presidential polls: Mallikarjun Kharge is seen as the front-runner in the race.

New Delhi:
The first non-Gandhi chief of the Congress in more than 20 years will be named today as the counting of votes for the party’s internal election takes place. Veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge, seen as a favourite, is facing Shashi Tharoor.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

  1. The counting begins at 10 am at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, where sealed ballot boxes have been brought from across the country. Around 96 per cent of the 9,915 eligible leaders had voted in the election held on Monday, the Congress had said.

  2. Mallikarjun Kharge, a long-time loyalist of the Gandhi family, is seen as the front-runner in the race. But this has provided ammunition to critics, who allege that the party will be remote-controlled by the Gandhis if he wins.

  3. The Congress has vehemently denied the possibility. “These (allegations) are all used by critics… Two competent individuals are competing… Every effort is being made to keep it a free, fair polls,” Jairam Ramesh, the party’s General Secretary-in-Charge of Communications, told NDTV.

  4. Mr Kharge and Mr Tharoor have both maintained that the Gandhis are neutral about the election. Mr Tharoor, however, has said that the “odds have been stacked against us as the party leaders and establishment were overwhelmingly with the other candidate”.

  5. Congress MP Karti Chidambaram, one the signatories to Mr Tharoor’s nomination, told NDTV that “deliberate misinformation” was spread about the Thiruvananthapuram MP, who pitched for change. Mr Tharoor, he however added, “will get significant votes”.

  6. The election comes three years after Sonia Gandhi agreed to temporarily lead the party when Rahul Gandhi stepped down, taking responsibility for the two consecutive routs of the party in 2014 and 2019 general elections.

  7. It was held after multiple calls for change and hiccups over finding a candidate against Shashi Tharoor. Mr Kharge was a last-minute entrant, persuaded to contest by a section of Central leaders when Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot dropped out of the race even before it started.

  8. Seen initially as the front-runner, Mr Gehlot’s candidature went sideways after his loyalist MLAs launched an open revolt in Rajasthan to keep his arch-rival Sachin Pilot from succeeding him as the Chief Minister.

  9. Congress central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry has expressed satisfaction with the polls, saying it was “free, fair and transparent”.

  10. 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.


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