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A look at their priorities, promises as elected party chief

With just two days to go, the stage is set for a match between veteran Mallikarjun Kharge and high-profile MP Shashi Tharoor for the Congressional presidential election, the first in more than two decades. While the poll takes place on October 17, the votes will be counted on October 19 and the results will be announced the same day. More than 9,000 delegates from the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) will vote in the poll.

Tharoor had said that he and Kharge are colleagues and whoever wins would be the party’s victory. Kharge had referred to Tharoor as his younger brother and said that there are no differences between them.

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Tharoor has released a polling manifesto outlining his priorities, while Kharge said his sole agenda is to implement the party’s Udaipur statement. As the two leaders prepare for the contest, here’s a look at the promises and priorities of both leaders if they are elected president of Congress.

Declaration of Udaipur a priority for Kharge

Congress presidential candidate Mallikarjun Kharge says he did not have a separate election manifesto and that his sole agenda is to implement the statement passed by the party during the Chintan Shivir in Rajasthan earlier this year. Congress had held a three-day ‘Chitan Shivir’ brainstorming session in May in Udaipur, Rajasthan, to develop the party’s strategy for its overhaul and revival after a series of electoral defeats.

He promised to offer 50 percent of party posts to people under the age of 50 if he wins the poll. Kharge said he believed in a collective approach and in including everyone, including youth and women, and would work with all members to take the party to new heights.

The octogenarian went on to say he would work to resolve issues involving farmers, workers, SC, ST, OBCs, minorities and small business owners. He also said the fight against divestment of PSUs, rising unemployment, depreciation of the rupee value, rise in price and GST on essential items.

Noting that the situation in the country is “bad”, Kharge said he is contesting the election for the post of party chairman “to fight against the BJP and accused the ruling party of “weakening” autonomous bodies such as the Central Bureau. for Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Tax Department.

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Tharoor’s poll manifesto

Claiming that leaders like Kharge cannot bring about change and will continue the existing system, Tharoor promised to bring change in the party according to the expectations of the workers.

He suggested that Congress rejuvenate itself, particularly by bringing fresh faces and young blood into its leadership at all levels — village, bloc, district and state, as well as nationally.

He proposed the decentralization of the organization and said Congress should give real authority to the PCC presidents and empower the party’s officials at the grassroots level.

In his manifesto, he said Congress should have a full-time president open to everyone and proposed five vice presidents from different regions.

He also pledged to implement the Udaipur Declaration, including the “one person one post” rule, term limits for party positions, 50% tickets for those under 50 and greater representation for women, youth, SC/ST/OBCs and minorities in party positions.

ALSO READ: ‘Can’t you see the difference?’ Tharoor complains about warmer treatment for Kharge in Cong-Quest

Kharge vs Tharoor an unequal match?

Kharge’s nomination is reportedly supported by the choice of the Gandhi family, giving him an edge over Tharoor. Several senior party leaders including AK Antony, Ashok Gehlot, Ambika Soni, Mukul Wasnik, Abhishek Singhvi, Ajay Maken, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Digvijaya Singh, Tariq Anwar, Salman Khurshid, Pramod Tiwari, PL Punia, Rajeev Shukla, Prithviraj Chavan and Manish Tewari supported Kharge’s nomination. Tharoor has also admitted that senior leaders have sided with Kharge in most states, except recently in Madhya Pradesh, saying that open support for his rival candidate has disrupted the level playing field.

Tharoor, who builds his campaign on the slogan “Think Tomorrow, Think Tharoor” on social media, has won the support of young leaders such as Sivaganga MP Karti Chidambaram, Kishanganj MP Mohammed Jawed and Nawgong MP Pradyut Bordoloi for his nomination.

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