The results of the CONGRESS presidential election on Wednesday were not unexpected, but there was a small surprise. As Mallikarjun Kharge won 7,897 votes (84.14%) to become the first non-Gandhi party leader in 24 years, Shashi Tharoor surprised many by polling 1,072 votes (11.42%).
A total of 9,385 votes were cast, but 416 were deemed invalid.
Tharoor’s vote share of over 11% reflects the desire for change within the party.
Among the first to reach Kharge’s residence to congratulate him was Tharoor. Additionally, the outgoing Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, along with her daughter and AICC general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, visited Kharge’s residence at 10 Rajaji Marg to extend their congratulations.
The Prime Minister of India took to Twitter to wish Kharge well. He tweeted, “May his tenure be fruitful.”.
Rahul Gandhi, who was in Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday for his Bharat Jodo Yatra, spoke with Kharge. When asked what role he and his mother would play now, Rahul responded: “…my role. I cannot comment on the role of the Congress president. Mr Kharge should do so.” In terms of my role, I am obvious. The Congress president will determine my role and how I will be deployed.”
When asked whether that also applied to Sonia, he replied, “That is a question for Khargeji and Sonia Gandhiji.” The final authority in the Congress party is the Congress president; we will have a new president, and that gentleman will decide precisely how the Congress party moves forward.”
Kharge was congratulated by several senior leaders, including Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot. Rahul and Priyanka also sent congratulatory messages to Kharge but did not mention Tharoor.
The 80-year-old veteran — the second leader from the Dalit community to become Congress president after independence and the sixth leader from the South to lead the party in the last 75 years — is expected to inject fresh life into the grand old party and revive its electoral potential. It is anticipated that he will take office on October 26.
Following his victory on Wednesday, he made all the right noises. As a result of her leadership, he thanked Sonia for her contributions to the Congress party, urged party workers and the public to participate in Rahul’s ongoing yatra, and argued that the major problems facing India today include price hikes, unemployment, widening disparities between rich and poor, and the spread of hatred by the government.
“We will continue to look to them (Sonia and Rahul) for guidance,” Kharge said. “We must all work together as a team. There is no superior or inferior individual. All of us are equal. As a united front, we must fight against the attack on the Constitution and the conspiracy to destroy democracy. Fascist forces are attacking every democratic institution of the country under the guise of communalism. “We will strengthen the organization, and we will meet these challenges,” he said.
According to him, the Modi government is all talk and no action. We believe that this nation cannot be sacrificed to the whims and fancies of a dictator. All of us must fight together, from Parliament to the streets… You have placed your trust in me… made a person born into a poor family the president of the Congress… I will deliver on your expectations,” he stated.
Following the announcement of the results, Tharoor congratulated Kharge and thanked the PCC delegates who had supported him. “I humbly accept the decision of the party delegates. It is a privilege for me to be a member of a party that allows its workers to elect their president,” he said in a statement. As our new party president, we welcome a senior party colleague with a wealth of experience and leadership opportunities. I am confident that under his leadership, we will be able to take the party to new heights,” he concluded.
However, the election was fought bitterly to the end, with the Tharoor campaign raising concerns several times. Even on the eve of the counting, they wrote to Madhusudan Mistry, the head of the party’s election authority, highlighting “extremely serious irregularities” in the electoral process in Uttar Pradesh. It was demanded that the votes from UP be deemed invalid.
While announcing the results, Mistry said the charges levelled by the Tharoor camp were without foundation and that he would respond point-by-point.
During a press conference, Tharoor, the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, said he was not a candidate of dissent but instead for change. As a result of Kharge’s victory, Congress won.
“It never had anything to do with one individual. I have never desired anything for myself. My only wish is to see a strong Congress, which is vital for the strength of India. In that spirit, I fought the election.” he said.
“I did not pitch myself as a candidate of dissent,” he replied when asked whether the votes he received reflected dissent among the Congress cadre. In my campaign, I presented myself as a candidate for change. Change not in the ideology or direction of the party but in the manner in which we carry out our daily duties. Additionally, I felt that access to the party workers needed to be improved, more discussion forums should be established, and not only the declarations of the Udaipur Cintan Shivir should be implemented. For us to mount a practical challenge to the BJP in the upcoming elections, I hope Kharge will seriously consider how all party workers can contribute to effective governance.