'Waiting a long time for this': Sonia Gandhi as Congress votes for non-Gandhi chief
The Congress presidential elections are taking place after a gap of 22 years between party veterans Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor. The last time polls happened, Jitendra Prasada had suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Sonia Gandhi.
After casting her vote for the Congress presidential election at the party's headquarters in Delhi, interim chief Sonia Gandhi said on Monday that she has been waiting for a “long time” for the process. In a video shared by news agency ANI, the interim president of the grand old party looked all smiles as her daughter and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra accompanied her for the voting.
"I have been waiting for a long time for this thing," Sonia can be heard saying in the video.
Congress veterans Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge are contesting to succeed Sonia as the president of the grand old party. Both leaders exercised their franchise earlier in the day, with Tharoor doing it in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, and Kharge in Karnataka's capital Bengaluru.
The presidential elections are happening after a gap of 22 years, and whoever emerges as the winner between Kharge and Tharoor will be the first non-Gandhi chief of the party in more than 24 years. The last time polls took place was in 2000 when Jitendra Prasada had suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Sonia.
The Congress interim president and Priyanka cast their votes at the party's headquarters in Delhi. Meanwhile, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi exercised his franchise at a ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ campsite in Bellary, Karnataka. Earlier in the day, party MP Jairam Ramesh shared a picture of the polling booth in Karnataka where Rahul cast his vote, stating that a “meeting room container” has been converted into a special booth for the voting purpose.
More than 9,000 Congress delegates are voting at the AICC headquarters in Delhi and 65 polling booths across the country. Several prominent party leaders, including Ramesh, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and P Chidrambaram cast their votes in Delhi. In Madhya Pradesh, state Congress boss and former chief minister Kamal Nath was among the early voters, while Chhattisgarh chief minister Bhupesh Baghel exercised his franchise in Raipur.
Tharoor and Kharge earlier today exuded bonhomie as they spoke about working together for the betterment of their party, and remaining “colleagues and friends” irrespective of the outcome of the elections. However, Tharoor - who had earlier said there is “uneven playing field” in the party's presidential polls, stated that Congress leaders and the “establishment” is with Kharge.
A G-23 (rebel group within Congress) leader, Tharoor, has called for decentralising the party, making it more inclusive and modern if he wins the polls. On the other hand, Kharge, reported to be the favourite to conquer the elections, has said that he is not ashamed to take advice from the Gandhi family.
The results of the Congress presidential polls will be declared on Wednesday (October 19).