96% turnout in Congress presidential polls, results on 19 Octtext_fields
New Delhi: More than 9,500 Congress delegates across the country on Monday voted to elect the party's first non-Gandhi president in 24 years, choosing between senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor as successor to Sonia Gandhi.
Of the total 9,915 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates that form the electoral college to pick the party chief in a secret ballot, over 9,500 cast their ballot at all PCC offices and the AICC headquarters in Delhi, party's central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry announced in New Delhi.
The results of the election will be declared on October 19, after ballots from all PCC offices reach Delhi and the votes polled are mixed before counting.
"I have been waiting for a long time for this day," Congress chief Sonia Gandhi told reporters after voting at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters in Delhi.
Sonia Gandhi, who had been the party president from 1998 to 2017, was made interim president after Rahul Gandhi resigned in 2019 over the party's poll debacle.
Voting in the much-discussed elections, viewed by some as an exercise aimed at putting the party on the path to revival, began at 10 am at the AICC headquarters and at polling booths in PCC offices across the country.
Besides Sonia Gandhi, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were among those who voted in Delhi.
Kharge, 80, a Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka who is tipped to win the election because of his proximity to the Gandhis, cast his ballot at the Karnataka Congress office in Bengaluru. His electoral rival and Thiruvananthapuram MP Tharoor, 66, voted in the Kerala capital.
Kharge said in Bengaluru that Tharoor called him up and wished him good luck and he wished him the same. The two were contesting internal polls on a friendly note to strengthen the Congress to build a stronger and better nation for future generations, he said.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Tharoor said he is confident of victory even though the odds were stacked against him as leaders and the establishment were with the other candidate.
"India needs a strong Congress. I did not contest for my political future, but for that of the Congress and India. I am here as a viable alternative. I am standing for change. A change in how the party functions," he said.
The last election for the post of Congress president was held in 2000 when Sonia Gandhi handed Jitendra Prasada a crushing defeat.