India’s grand old party votes for new leader outside Nehru-Gandhi dynasty

New Delhi, Oct 17 (EFE).- India’s leading opposition party, the Indian National Congress, began an internal vote Monday to choose a new leader outside the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has run it for most of the time in the country’s 75 years of independence, and is now at its lowest point of popularity.

Some 9,000 eligible party voters are expected to choose between two candidates for the party’s presidency, which for the first time in more than two decades will not involve any member of the Gandhi family.

The first candidate seeking to head this historic party, led so far by Sonia Gandhi, is Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, a member of the marginalized Dalit or “untouchable” community from the southern state of Karnataka.

Kharge held the portfolios of Railways, and Labour and Employment under the Congress government between 2009 and 2014.

Until this month, he served as leader of the opposition in the Upper House, and is seen to have the backing of the Gandhi family, making him the favorite to win the election.

His opponent is the well-known legislator and public intellectual from the southern state of Kerala, Shashi Tharoor, 66, who was born in London and has previously worked at the United Nations.

Tharoor presents himself as a fervent advocate of change, convinced that after the latest series of political setbacks, it is time for the party to take a democratic turn, and move beyond the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.

He served as Minister of State for External Affairs and Minister of Human Resource Development in the Manmohan Singh government (2004-2014).

Tharoor is seen as too elitist and far removed from the reality of this country of 1.4 billion inhabitants, which could detract much popular support in future elections.

In 2019, Rahul Gandhi, whose father, grandmother and great grandfather were all prime ministers, resigned from the post of party president after the drubbing in the 2019 general elections, forcing his mother take the reins of the party. EFE


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