It's official: Mallikarjun Kharge is elected as the Congress president...Takes the helm from Sonia Gandhi!

The hard-fought race has come to an end as senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge has won the battle and become the new president of the Congress party replacing the long-time serving leader Sonia Gandhi. The party has announced the official results, declaring Kharge as the new chief which has sparked a new beginning for the party amidst the tough times. 

After Sonia Gandhi decided not to retain the presidency and with Rahul Gandhi's stubborn mind of not taking over the helm, the race for the presidency was triggered after there was a contest between senior Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge (80) and Shashi Tharoor (66). It was the first time that the party voted for the apex role in over two decades and going in the way of the party's constitution, over 9,000 delegates had the eligibility to cast their votes to elect the new president. 

The two candidates toured across the country and met with the state leaders and sought their votes. The voting was held on Monday - October 17 and the results were announced on Wednesday - October 19. In what has become a much-awaited result, it was keenly watched across the country with predictions divulging that Kharge holds the advantage over Tharoor to win the presidency. 

The party has officially announced that Mallikarjun Kharge has been elected as the President of Congress. The party's Central Election Authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry said, "I hereby declare Mallikarjun Kharge as the elected President of Congress." The polling data showed that Kharge won the race with a huge vote share in accord with the predictions and by taking the helm, Kharge will be steering the Congress party to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls with stopovers in multiple assembly polls next year. 

"Total counted votes were 9,385, of which Mallikarjun Kharge received 7,897 votes & Dr Shashi Tharoor received 1,072 votes. Invalid votes were 416", Mistry added. After the official announcement, Kharge has been flooded with wishes and commendations to lead the grand old party at a time when it is plummeting across the nation. Interestingly, Kharge will be the first non-Gandhi chief of the Congress party in 24 years and the first Dalit leader in 50 years. 

As per the tally, Kharge has secured 90 per cent of votes and won the sixth presidential contest in the 137-year history of the Congress party. According to reports, the counting of votes began at 10 am at the Congress headquarters in Delhi and ended around 1 pm. After counting the votes, Mistry held a press conference and announced the final results. 

Speaking about the election results, Congress leader Sachin Pilot said, "Mallikarjun Kharge won with a huge majority; a win of democracy. I congratulated him. I've faith his experience will benefit the party...9000 elected people elected the President, this was never done before by any party. Opposition must be nervous today." In a political bonhomie, Shashi Tharoor, who lost the race, has arrived at the residence of Mallikarjun Kharge in Delhi to wish the latter for being elected as the Congress president. 

Earlier, Shashi Tharoor's faction has alleged 'extremely serious irregularities in the election process, though his allegation didn't stir up a storm. Tharoor had also issued a statement congratulating Congress president-elect Mallikarjun Kharge and said, "I believe the revival of our party has truly begun today." In the midst of intense celebrations, Kharge said he will hold a press conference between 4 to 4.30 pm on Wednesday. 

Several senior Congress leaders have extended their wishes to Kharge, who is a native of Karnataka and has been serving as the Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha. Kharge had served as a Union Minister under the UPA regime and he is a prominent politician from southern India. Accepting the defeat, Shashi Tharoor took to Twitter and wrote, "It is a great honour & a huge responsibility to be the President of the Congress & I wish Kharge Ji all success in that task. It was a privilege to have received the support of over a thousand colleagues & to carry the hopes & aspirations of so many well-wishers of Congress across India."