Soon after filing his nomination for the Congress President poll to be held on October 17, Mallikarjun Kharge resigned as the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha. He told the grand old party's working President Sonia Gandhi that he is quitting from the post in the upper house, in line with the Congress's "one person, one post" rule announced at the Udaipur Chintan Shivir. He sent a letter to Sonia Gandhi last night.
Mrs Gandhi, the chairperson of the Congress parliamentary party, will now appoint a new leader and convey the decision to the Rajya Sabha Chairman.
As the Congress picks its first non-Gandhi president in 25 years, Mr Kharge, 80, is the candidate backed by the Gandhis and is almost certain to be elected.
He faces Shashi Tharoor, a key member of the 'G-23' dissident group, in a direct contest. Notably, several G-23 leaders have officially backed Mr Kharge.
Former Jharkhand minister KN Tripathi, who is the third candidate in the contest, has also filed his papers. Digvijaya Singh, who collected his nomination papers on Thursday, dropped out of the contest after meeting with Mr Kharge in the morning.
It is likely the Gandhis may not vote in the internal election to maintain their neutrality, sources have said.
Shashi Tharoor has clarified that he has no bad blood with Mallikarjun Kharge. Calling him "Bhishma Pitamah of the Congress," he added, "we are not rivals, we are colleagues". He, however, did call Mr Kharge a candidate of continuity and vowed to change the party high command culture if elected.