Congress will enter a new dawn as the party’s first non-Gandhi president in more than two decades is expected to be announced by the afternoon today.
The fate of party veteran Mallikarjun Kharge, who is backed by most of the party stalwarts, and senior leader Shashi Tharoor is expected to be known at around 4.30 pm on Wednesday.
The counting of votes will start at 10 am at the party headquarters here. Voting was done on October 17 through a secret ballot, in which 9,497 out of 9,915 delegates voted.
Ballot boxes from all the states have been brought to the party headquarters. The votes of all the delegates will be mixed here so that the votes of none of the delegates are tracked back.
This is the first time in 22 years that the Congress will get a non-Gandhi president after members of the Gandhi family – Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – stayed away from contesting for the president’s post.
This is the sixth time in its nearly 137-year-old history that an electoral contest will decide who will take up the mantle of the party’s president.
Both Kharge and Tharoor have campaigned extensively for the elections. While Kharge is considered the Gandhi family’s ‘unofficial official candidate’, Tharoor pitched himself as the candidate of change.
While octogenarian Kharge has got the support of several senior leaders across the country during his campaign, Tharoor spoke about an uneven playing field during campaigning. He also spoke about the different treatment that his rival got.
Tharoor had said that several state chiefs and senior leaders were not available for a meeting with him during his visits to their respective states, but they welcomed Kharge and showed their support when he visited them.
Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi and her daughter and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi voted at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi. Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who is leading the party’s pan India Bharat Jodo Yatra, voted at the campsite in Karnataka’s Sanganakallu in Ballari along with around 49 other ‘Bharat Yatris’ who are also delegates.