After major upheavals leading up to the nomination for the post of the Congress president, senior Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge — whose name cropped up at the last minute — filed his nomination papers Friday. With this, he joins the contest with Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor and former Jharkhand MLA K N Tripathi.
Kharge received 14 sets of nominations in his favour, while Tharoor received five and Tripathi one.
Party veteran Digvijaya Singh, who expressed his interest for the organisation’s top post and had also picked up the nomination papers, confirmed he was pulling out of the race. He was among Kharge’s proposers.
Those who proposed his name include senior leaders, former Chief Ministers and sitting legislators from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Haryana, Punjab, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, home state Karnataka and Puducherry.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who dropped out of the race Thursday citing the developments in Rajasthan where his supporters triggered a crisis, is among Kharge’s nominees too, as is Dalit leader from Maharashtra Mukul Wasnik, whose name was doing the rounds as the Gandhi family’s choice.
Ajay Maken, the Congress in-charge of Rajasthan where the crisis unfolded this past week, was one of the proposers of Kharge from Delhi.
Bhupinder Singh Hooda (Haryana), V Narayanasami (Puducherry), Prithviraj Chavan (Maharashtra), senior leader A K Antony (also talked of as a possible president candidate), Ambika Soni (Haryana), Anand Sharma (Himachal Pradesh), Abhishek Singhvi (Rajasthan), Tariq Anwar (Bihar), Salman Khurshid (Uttar Pradesh), Pramod Tiwari (Uttar Pradesh), Tarachand Bhagora (Rajasthan), Kamleshwar Patel (Madhya Pradesh), P L Punia (Rajasthan), Moolchand Meena (Rajasthan), Raghuveer Singh Meena (Rajasthan), Avinash Pandey (Maharashtra) and Vinit Punia (Haryana) are on the list as well.
Also behind Kharge are Rajya Sabha MPs Rajeev Shukla (Uttar Pradesh), Syed Naseer Hussain (Karnataka), Dhiraj Prasad Sahu (Jharkhand), Akhilesh P D Singh (Bihar), Madhya Pradesh MLA Dilip Gurjar, Uttar Pradesh MLA Sanjay Kapoor, as well Lok Sabha MPs Deepender S Hooda (Rohtak), V Vailthilingam (Puducherry) and Manish Tewari (Anandpur Saheb).
Several of the leaders, including Tewari, Chavan, Hooda, Anand Sharma were part of the G-23 who, in 2020, wrote to party president Sonia Gandhi seeking large-scale reforms. Tharoor, a key member of the group, told The Indian Express on Thursday that he was not counting on support from the group.
Tharoor said in the interview that “we (his team) are collecting signatures from all over the country”. MPs like Karti Chidambaram, Pradyut Borodoloi and Mohammed Jawed have signed his forms as proposers.