New Delhi [India]: Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor, who is pitted against party veteran Mallikarjun Kharge for the post of the Congress president on Monday, said the revival of the grand old party has begun whatever the outcome and that the fate of the Indian National Congress lies in the hands of the party workers.
Voting for the Congress presidential polls commenced at 10 am today and will culminate at 4 pm.
Results will be declared on October 19.
The fate of the Congress party will be decided by over 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates who comprise the electoral college for electing the party chief.
Tharoor said that he was confident of winning the election but acknowledged the odds stacked against him
“I am confident. The fate of the Congress party is in the hands of party workers. The odds have been stacked against us as the party leaders and establishment were overwhelmingly with the other candidate,” Tharoor told media-persons at Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram today.
Tharoor also said he had spoken to Kharge earlier in the day.
“Today I spoke to Mr Kharge and said whatever has happened, we remain colleagues and friends,” Tharoor said.
Kharge also said today: “It is part of our internal election. Whatever we said to each other is on a friendly note. Together we have to build the party. (Shashi) Tharoor telephoned me and wished me luck and I also said the same.”
Meanwhile, Congress general secretary in-charge of communications Jairam Ramesh said that the Congress was the only political party to hold elections for its president.
“This is a historic day. Rahul Gandhi will cast his vote in Ballari during Bharat Jodo Yatra. Party’s interim president Sonia Gandhi is expected to cast her vote around 11am,” he said.
Tharoor took to Twitter and said that they shared “devotion to the success of the Congress”.
Previously, Tharoor had said that if one just “plays safe”, they lose.
He had tweeted, “Some people play safe in order not to lose. But if you just play safe, you will definitely lose.”
On Thursday, Tharoor had alleged that he has been facing differential treatment from the party leaders as against his opponent Mallikarjun Kharge.
In the previous week, Tharoor had said he could act as a catalyst of change for the grand old party in order to revive the party’s presence in the country.
Meanwhile, Congress veteran leader and party’s presidential candidate Mallikarjun Kharge had said that his name was not suggested by the party supremo Sonia Gandhi and dismissed the speculations of receiving support from the party’s interim president.
Kharge said that Sonia Gandhi had never suggested his name for the party president position and called it a rumour.
Kharge further said that members of the party have elected delegates which are 9,300 in number, who will vote for the candidate and the one with the majority would be elected.
With the party all set to elect its new president, the 75 delegates, including interim chief Sonia Gandhi, General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other members of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) and senior leaders will cast their vote in the headquarters of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in New Delhi.
Apart from these, 280 other delegates will also cast their vote in the Delhi Congress office, the sources added.
The delegates who obtained prior permission from the Central Election Authority to cast their vote will vote in Delhi instead of their own state today.
It is not the first time that a non-Gandhi leader is contesting for the party presidency post-Independence, Jitendra Prasad contested for the post of the president about 22 years ago against Sonia Gandhi in which she emerged as a winner holding the mantle of the party for 20 years.
Sonia Gandhi is the longest-serving president of the party, having held the office for over twenty years from 1998 to 2017 and since 2019.
This time no member of the Gandhi family is contesting for the post of President.
This is the sixth time in its nearly 137-year-old history that polls are being conducted to elect the national president of the party. In the 2017 elections, Rahul Gandhi became the president unopposed.