Mallikarjun Kharge is set to be the new Congress president after a landslide win in the party’s first election in more than 20 years.
Mr Kharge, widely seen to be the “Gandhi-approved” candidate, won 90 per cent of the votes cast on Monday. He scored 7,897 votes while Shashi Tharoor finished with 1,072.
Mr Kharge is set to be the first non-Gandhi chief of the Congress in 24 years.
Even before the results were announced, Rahul Gandhi had declared Mr Kharge as the winner at a press conference in Andhra Pradesh.
When asked whether he would report to the new chief, Rahul Gandhi said: “The new president will decide what my role will be. Ask Kharge ji and Sonia ji.”
Shashi Tharoor alleged “extremely serious irregularities” in the election process. Salman Soz, representing Mr Tharoor’s team, later said they had been “assured of a fair inquiry” had had agreed that counting should continue.
The counting of votes, which began at 10 am at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, ended around 1 pm.
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.
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.
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.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.