Mallikarjun Kharge vs Shashi Tharoor: Congress to vote for next party chief todaytext_fields
The Congress is set to have its first non-Gandhi chief in over 20 years as Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor face off in the party's internal election today. While none of the Gandhis are contesting, Kharge is seen as the 'approved' candidate.
Both Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge have reiterated the non-involvement of the Gandhis.
Over 9,000 state Congress Committee leaders are expected to vote today in what would be the sixth actual election after Independence in the 137-year-old party. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were elected unopposed in every election.
The elections are being held three years after Gandhi stepped down from the top post after the second straight election defeat of the Congress in 2019. The 52-year-old, who is currently leading the party's "Bharat Jodo" yatra, has firmly refused to return as president despite unrelenting pressure from a section of leaders.
Sonia Gandhi, who had taken a step back from party responsibilities, was persuaded to make a comeback as its interim chief in August 2019. But the Congress suffered a string of defeats in the states, triggering calls for an organizational overhaul from various leaders, including the Group of 27 to which Shashi Tharoor belonged.
The promised election has been long in coming. A string of senior leaders, meanwhile, headed for the exit. The list included Ghulam Nabi Azad, Kapil Sibal, Amarinder Singh, Sunil Jakhar, RPN Singh, and Ashwani Kumar. Some of those who quit claimed that Gandhi is the unofficial decision-maker and complained that a coterie around him calls the shots.