Congress is set to vote for the party president today with senior leaders Shashi Tharoor and Mallikarjun Kharge being the top two contenders in the fray. The counting of votes will take place on October 19.
Tharoor took to Twitter on Monday morning and posted pictures from Congrees's Kerala office where the polling was underway. "Whatever happens, may @incIndia win! (sic)," he wrote. In another tweet, he said he spoke to Kharge and wished him well ahead of the polls. "Spoke to Mallikarjun Kharge this morning to wish him well & to reaffirm my respect for him & our shared devotion to the success of Congress," he said.
Meanwhile, Tharoor late last week alleged a "difference of treatment" as he said that the state party chiefs had been "unavailable" during his campaign for the polls. KN Tripathi is another candidate in the fray for the post.
Karge too tweeted to wish Tharoor ahead of polls and reaffirm their commitment to "strengthen" the party.
Here are all the updates on Congress chief president:
Why are all eyes on Congress's internal polls?
The party is set to choose its first non-Gandhi president in 20 years. Rahul Gandhi had quit the post of the president back in 2019 after facing defeat in the Lok Sabha elections. Sonia Gandhi has been the interim party chief since then.
Several senior party leaders were being pegged as contenders for the post last month, including old guard Ashok Gehlot and Digvijaya Singh. However, Gehlot's prospective nomination led to political turbulence in Rajasthan after he hinted to make Sachin Pilot the chief minister of the state in case he became the party chief.
Gehlot later announced to not contest the polls after MLAs loyal to him threatened to resign en masse in case he chose Pilot as his successor.
Kharge vs Tharoor
After a tussle over Gehlot's nomination, Singh announced to run for the post. However, he withdrew just a day after the announcement and Kharge's name was floated. His candidature was reportedly proposed by senior party leaders including Gehlot, Singh, Pramod Tiwari, PL Punia, AK Antony, Pawan Kumar Bansal and Mukul Wasnik.
Congress Central Election Authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry told the media that three out of 14 nominations finalised, adding that none of them were "official" candidates.
Tensions have appeared between the two candidates after Tharoor last week said there was a "lack of level playing field".
"I have seen in many places, the PCC (Pradesh Congress Chief), CLP (Congress Legislature Party) leaders and big leaders welcome Mallikarjun Kharge, sit with him, invite people and tell them to be present. All this happened for one candidate but never for me," NDTV quoted Tharoor as saying.
"Some leaders have shown bias, that's what I meant when I said it is not a level playing field," he was quoted as saying and added that Kharge is welcomed and garlanded by "Congress grandees" wherever he goes for campaigning, a protocol which is not in place for him.