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Congress Presidential Elections: Team Tharoor Alleges Irregularities

Congress presidential elections seem to have all the drama usually associated with a polling process. On Wednesday, the day of the counting of votes, the supporters of one of the candidates, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor, wrote to the party’s poll panel, alleging irregularities.

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By: Anand Singh | NEW DELHI
Updated: October 19, 2022 13:19
Congress presidential candidate Shashi Tharoor
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Congress presidential elections seem to have all the drama usually associated with a polling process. On Wednesday, the day of the counting of votes, the supporters of one of the candidates, senior party leader Shashi Tharoor, wrote to the party’s poll panel, alleging irregularities.

In his letter to the chairman of the Congress Election Authority (CEA), Madhusudan Mistry, Salman Soz, who is the representative of Tharoor, drew attention to “extremely serious” irregularities in the conduct of the election in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

“As you will see, the facts are damning and the election process in UP is devoid of credibility and integrity. I have already conveyed some of this to you in a telephone conversation yesterday evening. After a detailed discussion with our polling agents, we are constrained to report more disturbing facts,” Soz wrote.

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Soz added that there have been reports of minor violations of CEA guidelines in a few states, but, for the most part, polling across the country happened peacefully and reasonably fairly.

“However, what we have witnessed in Uttar Pradesh is at a completely different level. It is an open challenge to the authority of your office as well as contempt for the orders of the Congress president and the Congress Working Committee to hold free and fair elections,” Soz wrote. “We would like to underline that we have no evidence that (Mallikarjun) Kharge was aware of how his supporters were engaging in electoral malpractice in Uttar Pradesh,” he added, alleging the use of unofficial seals for ballot boxes after the polls in Uttar Pradesh.

Reacting to the comments, the party’s Bihar in-charge Bhakta Charan Das said that Tharoor’s side is speaking the language of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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“He did not fight the election in the spirit of Congress. His allegations have no meaning. You are talking the language of the opposition party,” he told The New Indian.

“This is a moment to be happy as the party upholds the tradition of democracy. This is a time to congratulate the winner and not make allegations. You are talking in the language of the BJP. That is not right,” the senior leader from Odisha said.

Meanwhile, talking to the reporters during his Bharat Jodo Yatra, former party chief Rahul Gandhi said, “We are the only political party in the country, that holds elections. We are also the only political party that has an election commission inside it.”

“Whatever the issues are, they will be addressed to the election commission and the panel will take a decision. Congress has an institutional framework to do this, and we are very capable of doing this. We are the only party that has such a framework,” he added.

Tharoor was up against veteran party leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who threw his hat at the last moment following. Kharge, who appears to have the blessings of the Gandhi family, appeared to have the advantage with party stalwarts rooting for him.

Tharoor’s team member also alleged proxy voting despite the delegate not being present at Lucknow on the day of polling.

“We do not see how this election can be deemed free and fair if the tainted process of Uttar Pradesh is allowed to stand. We, therefore, demand that all votes from Uttar Pradesh be deemed invalid,” Soz said.

Leaving the ball at the court of the CEA, Soz wrote, “whether you wish to declare that publicly or not, we leave to your good judgment. We reserve the right to do what we believe is in the best interests of the party.”

Counting of votes is underway at the party headquarters, and the results are expected to be announced by evening.

Polling for the Congress president election took place on October 17, in which 9,497 delegates out of 9,915 voted.

The polling for the new Congress chief took place after a gap of over two decades. This time, Gandhi family members decided to stay away from the top post.

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