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Mallikarjun Kharge is new Congress chief, first non-Gandhi president in 24 years

NEW DELHI: Mallikarjun Kharge was on Wednesday elected the Congress president after defeating Shashi Tharoor in an electoral contest, the sixth in the party’s 137-year-old history.

Outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi visited party chief-elect Kharge at his residence here soon after he was declared winner and congratulated him. She was accompanied by Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during their visit.

Congress’ central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry announced after the counting of votes that of the 9,385 votes polled in the Congress president poll, Kharge got 7,897 votes and Shashi Tharoor 1,072 votes, while 416 votes were declared invalid.

At a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, Mistry declared Kharge elected as Congress president.

On complaints by Tharoor’s team related to polling in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Telangana, Mistry said he will respond to the letters point by point.

He said the letter should not have been leaked to the press and Tharoor’s team should have directly engaged with the poll authority. There was no basis for the contents in the letter and there was nothing specific in the complaint, he said.

In a statement, Tharoor said the final verdict has been in favour of Kharge. He also conveyed his congratulations to Kharge for his victory.

“The decision of the party delegates is final and I accept it humbly. It is a privilege to be a member of a party that allows its workers to choose their president,” Tharoor said.

“Our new president is a party colleague and senior who brings ample leadership and experience to the table. Under his guidance, I am confident that we can all collectively take the party to new heights,” he said.

Tharoor said the party owes an “irredeemable debt” to outgoing president Sonia Gandhi for her quarter-century of leadership of the party and for being the anchor during most crucial moments.

“Her decision to authorise this election process, which has given us new pathways to the future, is undoubtedly a fitting testament to her sagacity and vision for our party. I hope she continues to guide, motivate and inspire the party’s new leadership team in overcoming the challenges ahead,” he said.

Tharoor also thanked former president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra for doing their own bit to support free and neutral elections.

“The Nehru-Gandhi family has held, and will always hold, a special place in the hearts of Congress party members and with good reason too,” he said.

Kharge is the first non-Gandhi Congress president in 24 years.


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