AICC president poll to choose between Mallikarjun Kharge, Shashi Tharoor concludes; eyes on 19 October

The Congress' first presidential election in 22 years was uneventful on Monday. Kharge is expected to win by a landslide to lead the party.

BySouth First Desk

Published Oct 17, 2022 | 7:45 PM Updated Oct 19, 2022 | 5:27 PM

AICC Interim President Sonia Gandhi at AICC poll booth. (Twitter: INCIndia)

The process to vote for the next president of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) concluded on Monday, 17 October.

Out of the 9,915 eligible delegates, around 9,500 cast their votes to choose between Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor.

Results of the elections will be declared on 19 October, with either Mallikarjun Kharge or Shashi Tharoor — both leaders from southern states — taking over as president of India’s grand old party.

While Shashi Tharoor has received a thumping endorsement from younger, low-profile leaders of the party, Mallikarjun Kharge is being seen as the popular choice of the senior leadership of the party.

The 80-year-old Kharge is currently the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, a post he may have to resign from if he is elected AICC president.

Both candidates have been busy with hectic campaigning over the last few weeks.

The voting process

Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh casting his vote in AICC President polls. (Twitter: INCIndia)

Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh casting his vote in AICC President polls. (Twitter/INCIndia)

“Provisional data shows that polling percentage is about 96. Today’s voting process has gone on without any untoward incidents or complaints. This is a huge achievement and displays the transparent, democratic internal election process in the part,” Madhusudhan Mistry, chairman of the Congress Central Election Authority, told reporters in New Delhi.

“I have been waiting for this for a long time,” Sonia Gandhi, interim president of the AICC, told reporters as she walked by on Monday morning after casting her vote at the AICC Headquarters.

For the first time in 22 years, a non-Nehru-Gandhi family member will lead the Congress as president, even as questions continue to be raised about the independence of this leader of the party.

“Nobody from my family is going to remote-control the AICC president. I find that tone of accusation very insulting to both candidates,” Rahul Gandhi had told reporters in Karnataka’s Tumakuru during the Bharat Jodo Yatra, rejecting speculations that the Congress would have only a rubber-stamp president.

Culmination of a long process

Candidate for AICC President election Dr Shashi Tharoor casting his vote. (Twitter: INC India)

Candidate for AICC President election Dr Shashi Tharoor casting his vote. (Twitter: INC India)

Mistry claimed that the process to hold elections to choose the AICC president had been going on for two years now, but it was only in the last six months that it gained steam.

Senior leaders of the party like former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram, and Priyanka Gandhi cast their votes at the AICC Headquarters, while both the candidates polled at their respective PCC headquarters.

“About 50 people, including Rahul Gandhi, cast their vote at the booth set up at the Bharat Jodo Yatra campsite,” Mistry said.

The entire polling process was videographed, he added, in a move to ensure transparency.

“The elections have gone on well. We will know the results on 19 October. We will say what needs to be said post that. We will wait and see who they voted for,” Mallikarjun Kharge said after casting his vote.

He and Shashi Tharoor spoke to each other on Monday morning to wish each other the best.

The AICC presidential election generated a lot of interest and invited criticism from BJP ever since it was officially declared.