India's Congress Party Elects First Non-Gandhi President in Decades

Photo: EPA-EFE/Jagadeesh NV [via Al Jazeera]

The Facts

  • India's opposition Congress party has elected former minister Mallikarjun Kharge as its first president in 24 years not to come from the Gandhi dynasty. The move has been perceived as an attempt to reverse the party's electoral decline.

  • Considered the "establishment candidate" of Monday's election, Kharge secured 7,897 out of the 9,385 votes cast, and is set to take charge on Oct. 26. His rival, Shashi Tharoor, received over 1K votes — an impressive result that reportedly indicated a mood for change within the Congress.

The Spin

Narrative A

With the election of Kharge, the Congress has lost its last hope of recovery. Despite wanting to appear reformist by moving away from a history of nepotism, the party has selected an arch sycophant and loyalist. This decision demonstrates that the Congress is more concerned with maintaining the interests of the Gandhi dynasty than invigorating Indian democracy by posing a real electoral challenge to the BJP.

Narrative B

While it's true that Kharge will have to face several tough challenges as president of the Congress party — including the need to unite different party factions before the 2024 elections — his political experience indicates that he's the ideal person for the role. Kharge's life experience as part of the Dalit (formerly 'untouchable') community and his ideological pluralism will complement the Gandhi family's leadership and reinvigorate the Congress — he's the right person to fight the BJP.

Nerd narrative

There is a 55% chance that there will be a non-BJP Prime Minister of India before 2030, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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