Voters can elect any candidate as Congress chief

Amid ongoing intense debate on veteran Mallikarjun Kharge being the establishment candidate favoured by the Gandhis, the central election authority of the Congress on Monday sent out a message that two nominees in the fray for the party president’s poll were contesting in their personal capacities and voters were free to elect anyone of them.

In a note on dos and don’ts to all Pradesh Congress Committees today, Madhusudan Mistry, chairman of the AICC election authority, said that state returning officers would be the polling officers for their respective state units and will hold the responsibility for keeping order at the polling stations and ensuring that the election is fairly conducted.

In a message to state units, Mistry said, “Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor are contesting the election of the Congress president in their personal capacity. Therefore, delegates are free to elect any of them, as per choice, through the ballot paper.”

Tharoor welcomed Mistry’s message on fairness in the election process. The Thiruvananthapuram MP, who is already on campaign tours across states, also reacted to Kharge’s Sunday statement on consensus being better for the post of party chief.

“Let me make clear that I agree with Mallikarjun Kharge that all of us in the Congress wish to take on the BJP rather than each other. There is no ideological difference between us. The choice for our voting colleagues on October 17 is only on how to do it most effectively,” said Tharoor.

The letter from Mistry meanwhile reflected the Congress’ urge to come across as non-partisan after Kharge’s forms were endorsed by Gandhi loyalists signalling the unstated support of party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Mistry said AICC general secretaries, in charges, joint secretaries, Pradesh congress committee presidents, Congress Legislature Party leaders, heads of frontal organisations, chiefs of cells and official spokespersons would not campaign for or against any of the contesting candidates unless of course they first resign from their organisational posts.