OPN Mallikarjun Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, seen to be the "Gandhi-approved" candidate, won 90 per cent of the votes Image Credit: ANI

As predicted, the Congress party impaled itself on the Gandhi family with 'family nominee’ Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, sweeping the poll for the president of India’s oldest political party.

Sonia Gandhi, 73, the longest serving president will now hand over charge to Kharge.

Shashi Tharoor who had run against Kharge managed to get 1,072 vote against Kharge’s 7,897.

As you will recall dear reader, your columnist had already informed you of the foregone outcome of the Congress party’ in-house showcase of inner party democracy.

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Rahul Gandhi, former Congress president, took a break from his Bharat Jodo Yatra and addressed a presser where he said, “Khargeji as the new Congress president would decide on my future role in the Congress party.”

Left unsaid was the fact that Kharge - as the new chief operating official (CEO) of the Gandhi management firm - would be a spokesperson of the family.

Tharoor ran a good campaign which seemed to fire the imagination of India, if not the Congress party. Initially camp Tharoor raised a complaint today on the counting of delegates votes from Uttar Pradesh but seeing the magnitude of the Kharge sweep, accepted the inevitable defeat.

Tharoor, a third term Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram, had run on an agenda of change in the Congress party. 

Clearly, the Gandhi-heavy party, which is struggling with an existential crisis since 2014, does not want change but, cling to the familiar embrace of the Gandhi parivar.

Currently all three of the Gandhi family members are in politics and the only one who has shown an inclination to retire is Sonia Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra with their mother Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi, India. Image Credit: AP

So why hold an election at all? Senior Congress leaders who I spoke to for this report say that it was to prove a point to the naysayers such as the ginger group of the G-23 who repeatedly asked for inner party democracy and Gandhi family accountability after each electoral debacle.

Kapil Sibal and Ghulam Nabi Azad — the main leaders of the G-23 have quit the Congress party after making fierce attacks on Rahul Gandhi.

The likes of Himanta Biswa Sarma, chief minister of Assam, Jyotiraditya Scindia, currently the central minister for aviation, R P N Singh, Jiten Prasada, minister in the Yogi Adityanath government in UP, have also exited. Ironically those considered close to Rahul Gandhi were the first to desert him which reflects his judgement and quality of leadership.

OPN Mallikarjun Kharge
Kharge is set to be the first non-Gandhi chief of the Congress in 24 years Image Credit: AP

Kharge was drafted after another Gandhi family loyalist Ashok Gehlot, chief minister of Rajasthan — only one of the two states that the Congress runs today — wanted to combine the job of Congress president with the post of Rajasthan CM.

Gehlot rebelled, leaving the Gandhi family high and dry. His rebellion left Sachin Pilot, his young rival without a future in Rajasthan politics.

So what next? Indian voters are not enthused by the decisions made by the Congress party and the Gandhi leadership. Only a circle of courtiers continues to advise them to carry on doing more of the same.

Upcoming polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh will have further bad news for the Congress as newbie Aam Aadmi Party is likely to eat their vote share in the two bi polar states.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi walks holding hands with school girls during his Bharat Jodo Yatra Image Credit: AICC Twitter

Rahul Gandhi who has lost the party two general elections on the trot will continue calling the shots in the Congress without any accountability with Kharge replacing Sonia as a “face” to shield Rahul Gandhi.

Electoral debacles don’t seem to teach the Congress any lessons as Gandhi continues to be a dream opposition for Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and the resurgent BJP.

Will Kharge be a change agent? Senior Congress leaders laugh when you ask and then point to the Gandhi glue which holds the party together.

While still squatting on 19 per cent vote share, the activities of the Congress are of almost no interest to the people of India. A sad situation for the world’s largest democracy, which needs accountability from the government.