Voting ends in ‘loyalist’ Kharge vs ‘change seeker’ Tharoor contest- The New Indian Express


By Agencies

NEW DELHI: Voting ended on Monday at 4 pm in the Congress presidential poll as senior leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor faced-off for the post of AICC chief. 

 About 9,500 of the total around 9,900 electors cast their votes in the Congress presidential polls, the party’s central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry said. By and large the voter turnout in all places was over 90 per cent, Mistry said adding that this was provisional data.

The counting of votes will be held in New Delhi on Wednesday.

This is the sixth time in its nearly 137-year-old history that an electoral contest would decide who would take up the mantle of the party’s president.

Over 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates form the electoral college to pick the party chief in a secret ballot.

Voting began at 10 am at the AICC headquarters here and at party’s polling booths in state offices across the country.

Veteran Congress leader P Chidambaram was the first to cast his vote at the AICC headquarters here, sources said.

Kharge is considered the favourite for his perceived proximity to the Gandhis and backing by senior leaders, even as Tharoor has pitched himself as the candidate of change.

The last contested election for the post of Congress president was in 2000 when Sonia Gandhi handed Jitendra Prasada a crushing defeat.

The Nehru-Gandhi family has been at the helm of the party for about 40 years in years since Independence.

The five family members to take on the mantle of party president are Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Congress leaders cast their vote for the post of party president. (Photo | Special Arrangement)

Electors in the Congress presidential polls have been asked to put a tick mark against the name of their choice on the ballot paper after AICC president candidate Tharoor’s team took up with the party’s top poll body the issue of its earlier directive that voters write “1” to reflect their preference, citing that it may lead to confusion.

The polling agents for Mallikarjun Kharge are MP V K Sreekandan and MP Dean Kuriakose and former MLAs V S Sivakumar and A A Shukkoor. The polling agents for Tharoor are Mannamoola Rajan, R Sivakumar, Sanal Kumar and Vijayachandran.

Prior to the start of the election, Kodikunnil said once the elections are over the party will be united. “But Tharoor should have withdrawn from the race. There is no scope of rivalry once the elections are over”, said Kodikunnil.

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During the campaign, even though Tharoor raised issues of uneven playing field, both candidates and the party have maintained that the Gandhis are neutral and that there is no “official candidate”.

Ahead of the polling, Kharge had said he would have no shame in taking the advice and support of the Gandhi family in running the party affairs, in case he becomes its president, as they have struggled and put their strength for its growth. The veteran leader had said he is the “delegates’ candidate” in these polls.

Tharoor casts his vote

Congress presidential candidate Shashi Tharoor casts his vote at the party office, in Thiruvananthapuram. (Photo | PTI)

Tharoor who is the cynosure of all eyes reached Indira Bhavan after offering prayers at Pazhavangadi Ganapathi Temple at 10.45 am.

After casting his vote, Tharoor told TNIE that he had called Kharge this morning and wished him luck. Reacting to the question on four block presidents acting as his polling agents, Tharoor said he wants to convey that they are the grassroots workers of the party who plays a crucial role.

“The opponent candidate has roped in MPs and former MLAs. But my polling agents are ordinary Congress party workers”, said Tharoor to TNIE.

Later Tharoor told the media contingent that he is getting good feedback from his polling agents. “There might be difference of opinion among the leaders. But from tomorrow onwards, all of us would be working united”, added Tharoor.

ALSO READ | Gandhi’s Kharge? Independent Tharoor? Congress to elect party chief after two decades 

Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra arrive to cast their votes for the party’s Presidential election at AICC headquarters. (Photo | PTI)

Outgoing party chief Sonia Gandhi on Monday said she had been waiting for a long time for this day.

Sonia Gandhi and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra came together at the AICC headquarters and cast their vote.

When asked by reporters about the polls, Sonia Gandhi said, “I have been waiting for a long time for this day.”

Later, former prime minister Manmohan Singh also cast his ballot in the polls at the party headquarters where the 68th polling booth for the AICC presidential poll has been set up.

Several senior leaders such as general secretary Jairam Ramesh, Ambika Soni, Ajay Maken and Vivek Tankha, among others, cast their votes at the party headquarters.

Congress leaders Ashok Gehlot, Kamal Nath, DK Shivakumar, and Pawan Kumar Bansal cast their votes to elect the party’s new chief. (Photos | PTI)

UPDATES FROM POLLING BOOTHS

Indira Bhavan saw a large posse of KPCC office bearers and also those who don’t have voting rights converge at the party headquarters much before the start of the election. The voting began at 9 am.

The State had 310 votes in the form of KPCC office bearers who had voting rights.

Three leaders had recently died after the KPCC office bearers list was approved making it a total of 307 votes. But 13 leaders had not turned up to cast their votes including Perumbavoor MLA Eldose Kunnapillil who is on the run from the law following a rape case.

Veteran leaders like Vayalar Ravi, P P Thankachan and T H Mustafa had informed the leadership about their inconvenience to reach Indira Bhavan due to old age. Except for V M Sudheeran who is in the US, the remaining former State Congress presidents including Mullapally Ramachandran who was not on good terms with the current leadership cast their votes at Indira Bhavan.

So, a total of 287 votes were cast at the two polling booths set up at Indira Bhavan.

The Kerala Pradesh Returning Officer G Parameswara told reporters the polling was smooth. “A total of 287 votes were polled at Indira Bhavan. Also, I and the Assistant Returning Officer, V K Arivazhagan also cast our votes here. Hence 289 votes were polled in the State. We have taken note of those leaders who had not turned up to cast their franchise due to various reasons including ill health”, said Parameswara.

P T Ajayamohan, Veliyankode block in Ponnani Assembly constituency in Malappuram and son of former legislator P T Mohanakrishnan was the first KPCC office bearer to cast his vote.

State Congress general secretary K A Thulasi whose leg was in a cast was wheeled inside a wheelchair and was accompanied by her husband, V K Sreekandan, Palakkad MP. Her leg was fractured during the course of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. (ENS)

Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Mallikarjun Kharge – one of the candidates in the party’s Presidential polls, cast their votes in the election for the top post.

Rahul Gandhi cast his vote in a meeting room container converted into a polling booth at the Bharat Jodo Yatra campsite in Sanganakallu in Ballari district, while Kharge voted at the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee office in Bengaluru.

About 40 other Bharat Yatris, who are PCC delegates, cast their votes at the camp site in Sanganakallu on Monday, which has been declared as “Rest Day” for the Bharat Jodo Yatra.

State Congress President D K Shivakumar and Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly Siddaramaiah cast their votes at the KPCC office in Bengaluru.

Karnataka had a second voting station at Sangankallu, Bellary where Bangalore rural DK Suresh, former MP V S Ugrappa and Bellary MLA B.Nagendra who are among the 503 voters from Karnataka cast their vote.

General Secretary Randeep Singh Surjewala who hails from Haryana and other national leaders cast their vote at Sangankallu where special arrangements were made.

Former union minister Mr Nachiappan the PCC election officer is the one who oversaw all the arrangements for the voting. (PTI and ENS)

The existing auditorium at Sathyamurthy Bhavan was converted into a polling camp. Some of the early voters included TNCC president K S Alagiri, and senior Congress leaders Karti P Chidambaram and Peter Alphonse.

Karti Chidambaram after casting his vote, backed the candidature of Tharoor, saying people were looking for someone who has a fresh perspective. Tharoor is articulate, a three-time Parliamentarian and has a huge fan following, he added. (PTI)

 Congress partymen and leaders during the presidential polls at Satyamurthy Bhavan. (Photo | P Jawahar, EPS)

Maharashtra Congress president Nana Patole and former state unit head Balasaheb Thorat were among the first few leaders to cast their vote on Monday to elect the next All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief. The polling was held at Tilak Bhavan in Dadar area of Mumbai. (PTI)

Around 1,250 party delegates were expected to have cast their votes. Six polling booths were set up. (PTI)

Polling took place in Telangana for the AICC presidential election at Gandhi Bhavan, the state Congress headquarters here, on Monday.

Senior leader Mohammed Ali Shabbir cast the first vote, followed by former PCC president Ponnala Laxmaiah and K Jana Reddy, both former ministers, party sources said.

There are 238 voters from the 119 Assembly constituencies in Telangana. Member of Parliament Rajmohan Unnithan is the Pradesh Returning Officer and Raj Baghel is his deputy for the election in the state, the sources said.

Two senior Telangana Congress leaders-former PCC president Ponnal Lakshmaiah and former Deputy Chief Minister Damodar Raja Narasimha squatted on the steps of Gandhi Bhavan protesting over a voter’s name being missed in the AICC presidential elections voters’ list.

The leaders alleged that one of the PCC delegates from Janagaon Assembly constituency who was issued a voter ID card was denied a vote in the presidential poll as his name did not figure in the electorate list. (PTI)

Goa Congress president Amit Patkar was among the early voters. After casting his vote, Patkar tweeted, Great feeling to cast my vote as delegate of @INCGoa from Curchorem constituency for the election of President of @INCIndia. I am sure that the Congress party will emerge stronger under the new National President across India. (PTI)

Former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath and his parliamentarian son Nakul Nath cast their votes on Monday soon after polling began to elect the next All India Congress Committee (AICC) chief.

A total of 502 delegates from Madhya Pradesh are eligible to cast their votes in the polls. Besides Kamal Nath and his son, Leader of Opposition in the MP Assembly Govind Singh also exercised his right to franchise, he said. (PTI)

PCC delegates including former chief minister V Narayanasamy, Congress Lok Sabha member V Vaithilingam, PCC president A V Subramanian, former Ministers M Kandasamy, R Kamalakannan, M O H F Shah Jahan and Congress MLA M Vaithianathan were among those who voted. (PTI)

Several Congress delegates, including JKPCC president Vikar Rasool, Karan Singh, and former JKPCC president Ghulam Ahmed Mir, cast their votes here.

Around 95 per cent of polling was recorded here. Out of total 340 votes, 321 were polled in J-K.

“While 151 votes were polled in Jammu, 170 were polled in Srinagar,” Returning Officer for J-K, and Congress parliamentarian Ranjit Ranjan said.

Speaking on the occasion, Rasool said two polling stations were set up, one each in Srinagar and Jammu, where delegates cast their votes. (PTI)

He said the party’s internal election was the “beauty of democracy”. “Such a process has not been seen in any party to date,” he added.

Congress party delegates cast their votes for the party’s presidential election, in Srinagar. (Photo | PTI)

Gehlot also tweeted a picture of him casting the vote. Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) chief Govind Singh Dotasra, chief whip Mahesh Joshi, ministers BD Kalla, Vishvendra Singh, Mamta Bhupesh and several other delegates also cast their votes.

Two booths were set up in the PCC office for voting from 10 am to 4 pm. (PTI)

Party spokesman Janga Gautam cast the first vote at the polling station in the Kurnool district Congress office. State Congress president Sake Sailajanath, working presidents N Thulasi Reddy, Sheik Mastanvali, and other leaders also exercised their franchise.

Former MP Meenakshi Natarajan was the election officer here. As the state Congress leadership is busy with the preparations for Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, which will re-enter AP on Tuesday, the PCC polling station for the president’s election was set up in Kurnool. (PTI)

Fifty of the 54 Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee delegates voted at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan here. A few PCC members from the state cast their votes in New Delhi, the leader said.

Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) President Nabam Tuki was the first one to cast his vote. The entire process was conducted under the supervision of Pradesh Returning Officer (PRO) Gopal Chandra Roy. (PTI)

A total of 94 per cent polling was recorded in the Congress presidential election in Jharkhand on Monday. Of the 319 state Congress committee delegates eligible to vote, 300 cast their ballots.

State Congress president Rajesh Thakur and election officer Prakash Joshi were the first who exercised their franchise.

Senior leader and former Jharkhand minister KN Tripathy had also filed the nomination paper for the party’s presidential election but it was rejected. (PTI)

Around 250 Congress delegates out of the total 407 in Gujarat have voted till 1:30 pm. Gujarat Congress president Jagdish Thakor and former state chief Amit Chavda were among those who exercised their franchise. (PTI)

Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and state Congress head Mohan Markam were among 300 delegates of the party who cast votes on Monday. Of the total 311 eligible delegates of the Chhattisgarh Pradesh Congress Committee (CPCC), five remained absent. (PTI)





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