Tharoor, Kharge cast vote; Who will romp home?

Shashi Tharoor; Mallikarjun Kharge. Photo: IANS

New Delhi: The much-awaited Congress presidential election will be held on Monday, October 17. All eyes will be on whether Shashi Tharoor, MP, could stage an upset win over senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge.

The voting will be done from 10 am to 4 pm and the result will be announced on Wednesday.

Tharoor held a campaign in Meghalaya and Assam on Saturday. He hopes to garner more votes than Kharge in the northeastern states, except in Assam. Out of the total 9,308 voters, 293 are in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Sikkim.

The election campaigns will draw to a close on Sunday evening. Tharoor will end his campaign in Lucknow on Sunday. He will fly back to Thiruvananthapuram late in the night and will exercise his franchisee right at the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters.

Kharge, who is expected to romp home, on Saturday joined Congress scion Rahul Gandhi in his Bharat Jodo Yatra (foot march) at Ballari in Karnataka. The Kharge camp firmly believes that rival candidate Tharoor could receive no more than 300 votes.

Meanwhile, Madhusudan Mistry, Chairman of the party’s Central Election Authority, brushed aside Tharoor’s claims on “lapses” in the voters' list, and claimed a new list, after rectifying all the shortcomings, has been handed over to the leader from Kerala.

This comes even as BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya lampooned the whole election exercise as a “stage-managed affair”, charging the Congress with not even making public the details of the voters. However, Tharoor himself retorted that the Congress party knows how to resolve the difference of opinion within the party and that BJP should first attempt to conduct elections to key posts in that party.

Rahul, team to vote at Ballari

A polling booth will be readied at Bellari to enable Rahul Gandhi and other Congress functionaries who are taking part in the Bharat Jo Yatra to exercise their franchisee rights.

A total of 46 leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, will vote there.

Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi will exercise their voting rights at the All-India Congress Committee headquarters.

Kerala leaders in charge of the election affairs are: 1. Pradesh Returning Officers (PRO) Hibi Eden (Pondicherry), Shanimol Usman (Andaman), Rajmohan Unnithan (Telangana), and 2. Assistant Pradesh Returning Officers (APRO) Neyyattinkara Sanal (Tamil Nadu), Johnson Abraham, Anil Thomas (Karnataka), T.D. Pradeep Kumar (Andaman).

Voting process

Polling booths have been set up at the headquarters of Pradesh Congress Committees in States and Union Territories and at the AICC in Delhi.

The voters should produce the ID cards issued by the Central Election Authority. Those who are yet to collect the ID cards can procure the same from 9 am on Monday by producing either the Aadhaar card or the voter ID card.

Names are listed in the ballot paper in alphabetic order. First is that of Mallikarjun Kharge and then Shashi Tharoor.

The finger of the voters will be marked with ink.

There are two sections in the ballot paper. The voters should mention the PCC they represent, the voter’s name, serial number, and place in the second part below. They should tear this part and hand over the same to the Returning Officer.

They should mark ‘1’ against the name of the candidate on the ballot paper whom they wish to vote.

The vote will be invalid if they mark ‘x’ or tick sign.

After the voting process is over, the ballot box will be sealed in the presence of the agents of the candidates. The agents and Returning Officer will sign in the sticker on the sealing. The Returning Officers should take the same to the AICC headquarters through flight mode.

The ballot box will be opened at 10 am on October 19 in the presence of the agents. The votes from all the states will be mixed before counting them. The result will be announced by evening.

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