The Congress president is the “supreme authority” in the party and will decide on “my role and how I will be deployed”, party leader Rahul Gandhi said while naming Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday, hours before the 80-year-old was declared as the winner of the election for the top party post.
“…My role… I am very clear… Congress president will decide what my role is and how I will be deployed.. Ask Kharge ji,” he told reporters during the Bharat Jodo Yatra at Adoni in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool. The president will also decide which party the Congress will ally with in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi said.
Asked if he would report to the new president, he replied: “Obviously.”
Kharge was declared the new Congress president – the party’s first non-Gandhi chief in over two decades – after he defeated his opponent, Shashi Tharoor, in an electoral contest that was held on Monday.
Congress’ central election authority (CEA) chairman Madhusudan Mistry announced that of the 9,385 votes polled, Kharge got 7,897 votes and Tharoor 1,072 votes. A total of 416 votes were declared invalid, he said.
The president will also decide which party the Congress would ally with in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Gandhi said.
“It is for the new president to decide which party the Congress would ally with in the next elections,” the Wayanad MP said, when asked if the Congress would seek the support of the ruling YSR Congress party in Andhra Pradesh in the next general elections.
The Congress is the only democratic party in the country, as was evident from the way elections to the party president were held, Gandhi said.
“It reflects the democratic spirit in the party. Even if there is any disgruntlement among any leaders, they speak up openly. In no other party, one can find such a democracy as can be seen in the Congress. There is total dictatorship in all other parties and no leader has the guts to speak out,” he said.
Gandhi’s remarks on the party’s election process came even as Tharoor’s team, according to reports, wrote to the CEA, flagging “extremely serious irregularities” in the conduct of the election in Uttar Pradesh.
Congratulating Kharge after the announcement of the result, Gandhi tweeted: “Congratulations to Mallikarjun Kharge ji on being elected as the President of Congress. The Congress President represents a democratic vision of India. His vast experience and ideological commitment will serve the party well as he takes on this historic responsibility.”
The Congress, meanwhile, admitted that the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh had caused inconvenience to the people of Telangana. He, however, said the people should forget the past and move on, focusing on the future of the state.
He said the Congress will not support a decision of the Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government to create three capitals for the state.
“We are committed to continue with Amaravati as the only capital of the state. There is no need for three capitals for any state. It should have only one capital,” he said.
To another question, Gandhi said his party stands by Amaravati farmers who had given away their lands for development of the capital city. “We shall extend our complete support to the farmers who are on the padayatra,” he said.
The Congress will fulfill the long-pending demand of special status to the state if it is voted to power at the Centre in the 2024 elections, he said.
He also promised to fulfill all pending promises made in the AP Reorganisation Act, including completion of Polavaram major irrigation project on Godavari river.