NEW DELHI: After 22 years the Congress is all set to witness a contest for the president post on Monday with senior party leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor pitted against each other to lead the party with new vigour so as to fulfil the aim of defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
The voting will be done between 10 am and 4 pm, with the results will be declared on October 19.
"The delegates from all states will vote at their respective polling stations with a 'tick' mark for the candidate they support. Arrangements have been made for smooth polling," said Central Election Authority Chairman of Congress Madhusudan Mistry.
"Ballot boxes will reach Delhi on Oct 18 & counting of votes will be done on October 19. Polling booth set up at AICC as well, where over 50 people will vote. The whole polling process will be fair & free, no doubt about that,' he added. 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 president about 22 years ago against Sonia Gandhi in which Sonia 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 will be held to elect the President of the party. In the 2017 elections, Rahul Gandhi became the president unopposed.
"There's no problem with our ideology but I want to bring a change in our way of work... Mallikarjun Kharge is an experienced leader, if he wins, we'll work in cooperation naturally," Congress Presidential candidate Shashi Tharoor said ahead of the polls tomorrow.
Kharge, "It's my duty to strengthen the org & fight vindictive policies of BJP-RSS, they're dividing the country on basis of religion; they're dividing the backwards, scheduled castes, minorities. They see everything through an election point of view."
"We've to fight from parliament to street. It's difficult as unemployment& inflation are there, GDP growth is falling, value of rupee is going down, petrol-diesel & essential commodities' prices are going up,' he added.
More than nine thousand delegates will vote in this election.The state from which the delegate belongs will have to go to the Congress headquarters of that state and vote.
Apart from the Congress headquarters in the states, the voting facilities will also be available at the party's central headquarters at 24 Akbar Road. In Delhi, those delegates can cast their vote who have obtained prior permission from the Central Election Authority to cast their vote in Delhi instead of their own state.
Congress Working Committee members including Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Priyanka Gandhi and some senior leaders will vote in the booth at the Congress headquarters. About 40 delegates involved in the Bharat Jodo Yatra, including Rahul Gandhi, will be able to cast their vote in the camp itself. A polling station is being set up at the Sanganakallu campsite in Bellary.
While the two contestants Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge will cast their votes in their respective state's headquarters Trivendram and Bengaluru After voting, the ballot boxes from all the states will be brought back to Delhi where the results will be announced after the counting of votes on October 19.