VD Satheesan toes ‘official line’, picks Kharge over Tharoor for Cong president

VD Satheesan, Mallikarjun Kharge, Shashi Tharoor. Design: Onmanorama
VD Satheesan, Mallikarjun Kharge, Shashi Tharoor. Design: Onmanorama

Ernakulam: Leader of the Opposition in Kerala Assembly, V D Satheesan, has openly declared his support to Mallikarjun Kharge for the October 17 Congress presidential election.

Satheesan told reporters in Kochi on Saturday that he would work for the victory of Kharge.

Kharge, the 80-year-old leader from Karnataka, is facing Shashi Tharoor, MP, in the Congress' internal elections. Kharge, who resigned as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha on Saturday, is believed to have the backing of the Nehru-Gandhi family, hence the favourite to win.

"I'm waiting for the proud moment of one belonging to the Dalit community becoming the Congress president. He was made a candidate after all senior leaders held discussions; hence I will support only him," Satheesan, one of the most prominent Congress leaders in the state, said.

"It's a matter of pride that Kharge who won nine elections and was a central and state minister becoming the Congress president. He is an experienced leader. His age is not a bar for taking up the president post. Elderly people can't be sent away. We have to make use of their experience," Satheesan said.

He said some leaders' decision to back Tharoor for the post will not cause any rift in the party.

Satheesan also noted the internal elections in the Congress reflected the beauty of democracy. "Does an election take place ever in CPM or BJP? The Congress allows anyone who is qualified to contest. That's the peculiarity of a democratic party," he said.

The October 17 poll will be a direct fight between Kharge and Tharoor as former Jharkhand minister K N Tripathi's nomination was rejected on Saturday. The three had filed nominations on Friday, the last day of the process.

Kharge entered the fray at the last minute with the support of almost all senior leaders in the party. Though exiting party chief Sonia Gandhi has made it clear that her family does not favour any particular candidate, the senior leaders’ support to Kharge is seen as a clear sign by political observers. Apart from the official faction, prominent leaders belonging to the now-defunct G-23 group, which called for reforms including internal elections, are supporting Kharge. If Kharge wins, he will be the second Congress president from Dalit communities after Jagjivan Ram.

The last date for withdrawal of nominations is October 8 and the final list of candidates will be out at 5 pm on the same day.

According to a notification issued by the party on Thursday, the process for filing nominations for the election was from September 24 to 30.

The polling, if needed, will be held on October 17. The counting of votes will be taken up on October 19 and the results will be declared the same day. More than 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates will vote in the poll. Kerala has 300-odd delegates.

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