While Kharge is the last-minute “official” pick of the Gandhis, Tharoor is considered as an underdog, owing to the fact that he is from the G-23.
Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi has said that the party’s president elections will be “free and fair”. The October 17 polls will give the Grand Old Party a non-Gandhi president after over 24 years. This would be the fourth time since Independence that polling will decide who would lead the party.
While the party is set to witness a contest for the post of party president, the recent developments have brought it down it down to a one-on-one contest between Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor, with Ashok Gehlot and Digvijaya Singh having pulled out of the race.
While Kharge is the last-minute “official” pick of the Gandhis, Tharoor is considered as an underdog, owing to the fact that he is among one of the G-23 members.
After Gehlot pulled out of the race after his meeting with Sonia Gandhi over the recent political turmoil in Rajasthan, the Congress immediately for the role. Meanwhile, Digvijaya Singh, who had filed his nomination papers, announced he was pulling out of the race in deference to “my senior”.
While the Gandhis ensured neutrality to Tharoor in the polls, the party’s backing to Kharge has been quite visible. AICC Venugopal visited Kharge to ready his papers for the nomination formalities.
Kharge, flanked by top Congress leaders, had filed 14 sets of nomination papers with the proposers including Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh, A K Antony, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik and members from the G-23 ginger group comprising Anand Sharma, Bhupinder Hooda, Prithviraj Chavan and Manish Tewari. Tharoor, on the other hand, was accompanied by unknown proposers and not a single high-profile leader from the party.
Another clear sign that the elections could be more or less a formality is the fact he has already tendered his resignation as the leader of opposition (LoP) in the Rajya Sabha. Kharge resigned in line with the party's one person-one post resolve, due to which Gehlot had remained reluctant towards taking up the party chief job since he did not want to cede the CM post to his bitter rival Sachin pilot.