Veteran Karnataka leader Mallikarjun Kharge today became the first non-Gandhi Congress president in 24 years, and the first Scheduled Caste chief of the grand old organisation in four decades.
Kharge defeated Kerala Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and polled 7,897 of the 9,385 votes cast while Tharoor garnered 1,072.
Chairman of the Congress Election Authority Madhusudan Mistry officially announced Kharge elected, with the victory of the 80-year old party warhorse, a former nine term state MLA and three-term MP (twice Lok Sabha and currently Rajya Sabha) being celebrated with festive fervour amid the beating of drums at AICC headquarters.
In Andhra Pradesh, former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said his future role would be decided by the Congress chief, who is the supreme authority in the party.
Tharoor acknowledged defeat today, moments after his poll agent Salman Soz threatened "suitable action' if Mistry did not agree to the team's demand of declaring all votes polled in Uttar Pradesh "invalid", amid allegations of voter fraud.
As the results poured in, team Tharoor retreated and reconciled to defeat promising cooperation to Kharge.
The importance of Kharge's election is multifold. He is the first non-Gandhi to head the Congress in 24 years, after Sitaram Kesri was unceremoniously ousted in 1988 through a Congress Working Committee resolution that invited Sonia Gandhi to become the party chief.
Sonia had become a primary member of the Congress only a year ago at the AICC Kolkata plenary in 1997.