Sunday December 03, 2023

Indian opposition party seeks to shed dynastic rule image

By Agencies
October 01, 2022

NEW DELHI: India’s main opposition party, the Indian National Congress, is set to choose a person who is not a member of its dominant Nehru-Gandhi family as its next president as it struggles to recover before key upcoming elections.

Although the party has been led historically by the family, interim party president Sonia Gandhi and her son, Rahul Gandhi, have decided to bring in a new face during a challenging time for the party, which has suffered crushing defeats in national and state elections since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist party came to power in 2014. Their choice fell on a trusted party leader, 80-year-old Mallikarjun Kharge from southern Karnataka state.

Kharge, a member of Parliament and a former minister of Railways, Labour and Employment, filed his nomination papers on Friday at the party headquarters in New Delhi. His main challenger will be Shashi Tharoor, 66, who spent nearly 30 years at the United Nations before joining the Congress party in 2009.

A little-known former Congress state minister from eastern Jharkhand state, K.N. Tripathi, also filed nomination papers and is a third candidate for the top party post, the Press Trust of India news agency said. If two contestants remain in the race after the Oct 8 deadline to withdraw nominations, 9,000 party delegates will vote on Oct 17 and the result will be announced Oct 19.

The filing of nominations papers is a major step toward ending the party’s struggle to find a new leader after dismal results in the 2019 national elections and Rahul Gandhi's subsequent resignation as party president.