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Congress President poll: Mallikarjun Kharge set to win with backing of party big guns

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NEW DELHI: Internal Congress elections took a dramatic turn on Friday with its veteran Dalit face Mallikarjun Kharge entering the race for the party’s president on the last day of filing of nomination papers. He is 80 and has the support of top party stalwarts and the backing of the Gandhi family, making his victory in the October 17 election a foregone conclusion.  

Senior rebel leaders, known as the G-23, deserted Kharge’s rival candidate Shashi Tharoor, who was till recently part of their group. Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Anand Sharma, Prithviraj Chavan and Manish Tiwari were among the G-23 leaders who signed Kharge’s nomination form. They were also present at the Congress headquarters in his support when he arrived to file his nomination papers. 

After filing his nomination papers, Kharge told reporters, “I thank senior leaders from all states for supporting me in the Congress presidential election…I am fighting for a big change in the party.” This newspaper was the first to reveal that the Congress will elect a non-Gandhi as party president. The nominations for the polls closed on Friday and members of the Gandhi family stayed away from the process.

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Digvijaya Singh backed out after Kharge’s name was announced and it became clear that the latter had the party leadership’s support. Digvijaya signed Kharge’s nomination and accompanied him to the AICC office.

Sources said Kharge will soon resign from the post of Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha in keeping with the party’s rule of one-person-one-post. The party leadership had earlier asked Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to fight the election but he declined after his loyalist MLAs refused to authorise party president Sonia Gandhi to choose his successor as CM. Sonia will now decide whether or not he would continue as CM after his failure to control the revolt against the central leadership.

‘Status quo vs change’
In a message to party voters, Shashi Tharoor said, “go with Kharge if you want status quo, if you want change, come with me.” He called Kharge as the candidate of continuity.  (THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS)

58 Days ago