Rahul Gandhi votes at special polling booth in Sanganakal near Ballari; Counting on Oct. 19
Mysore/Mysuru: The voting in the poll for electing the next AICC (All India Congress Committee) President began at the KPCC (Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee) headquarters in Bengaluru this morning.
The poll is witnessing a direct contest between veteran party leader from Karnataka Mallikarjun Kharge and Lok Sabha MP from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor. For the first time in 22 years, no member of the Gandhi family is a candidate for the party’s top post.
Apart from the Congress headquarters at Bengaluru, the polling is also taking place at Sanganakal near Ballari, where special arrangements are made for 40-plus delegates who are part of the ongoing Rahul Gandhi-led ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ which is currently on Ballari leg of its Karnataka campaign. Over 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee delegates from across the country, who make up the electoral college, are casting their votes to pick the next Party chief in a secret ballot. The election is taking place at 65-plus polling booths in all State Unit headquarters of the country.
In Karnataka, there are 463 KPCC delegates who are eligible to cast their ballots. In respect of Mysuru district, there are 22 delegates, including seven from the city — MLA Tanveer Sait, MLC Dr. D. Thimmaiah, former MLAs Vasu and M.K. Somashekar, leaders K. Harish Gowda, T.S. Ravishankar and Narayana, a former city Mayor. The other delegates include MLAs, MLCs and leaders of the party from across the district.
The polling, which commenced at the KPCC Headquarters at 10 am, will end at 4 pm, after which the ballot boxes will be flown to New Delhi, where the counting of votes will be taken up on Oct.19.
The next Congress President will be announced the same day soon after the counting concludes, according to sources.
This election is also historic for the Congress party since it would be the sixth time in its 137-year-old history that an electoral contest would decide who would take up the mantle of the Party’s President.
Sonia Gandhi is the longest serving Congress President, who has been at the helm since 1998, barring two years between 2017 and 2019, when her son Rahul Gandhi was in charge. Non-Gandhi leaders who have held the post include K. Kamaraj, P.V. Narasimha Rao, S. Nijalingappa, Sitaramayya and others.
Prior to this, the elections to the Presidential post were held in 1939, 1950, 1977, 1997 and 2000. Kharge, the 80-year-old veteran leader from Karnataka, who quit his post as the Opposition Leader in the Rajya Sabha to contest the AICC polls, is considered as the firm favourite because of his perceived proximity to the Gandhi family and backing by senior party leaders from across the States. His lone opponent Shashi Tharoor, the vocal MP from Kerala, has pitched himself as ‘the candidate for change.’ During the campaign, both candidates, who criss-crossed the States seeking support, have maintained that the Gandhis are neutral and that there is no ‘official candidate.’