Congress President Polls Live Updates: Mallikarjun Kharge or Shashi Tharoor — Congress to elect its next chief tomorrow

Mallikarjun Kharge, the frontrunner in the Congress leadership race, said on Thursday that he may not consult the Nehru-Gandhi family on every decision, but would seek their “guidance” and “suggestions”, pointing out that Sonia and Rahul Gandhi have experience helming the party. He said there was nothing to be ashamed about in seeking their counsel as he believed in a collective approach, not an individualistic style of functioning.

On October 1, Saturday, Madhusudan Mistry, returning officer, named Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor as the two candidates in the fray for the election of Congress president on October 19. With that, the contest for leadership of India’s main party of the Opposition has been kicked off. After nearly two and a half decades, it will have a non-Gandhi at its helm.

Or will it, really? With Kharge widely seen as the unofficial official candidate — a bevy of establishmentarian leaders and many of the G-23 rebels, too, have come out in his support — has the Gandhi family genuinely stepped aside, or back? Or will it still control the Congress, and not do so too? Those, of course, are the questions. But Tharoor’s candidature may already be stirring things up.

In an interview with the Indian Express, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor about his reasons for contesting, his plans for the party, the role of the Gandhi family, the importance of the poll for the future of the Congress, and says he realises both his strengths and his weaknesses.

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