Congress Top Job May Go To Sushil Kumar Shinde Or Mallikarjun Kharge

It will be the third time that someone outside the Nehru-Gandhi family will lead the Congress after PV Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri.

Mallikarjun Kharge, 76, suffered his first election defeat in a decades-old political career (File)

Highlights

  • Rahul Gandhi posted an open letter on his decision to resign
  • He took responsibility for the Congress's national election defeat
  • Sources say a final decision will involve all three Gandhis
New Delhi:

After Rahul Gandhi, the Congress may choose between Sushil Kumar Shinde and Mallikarjun Kharge as new party president. The names emerged as Rahul Gandhi posted an open letter on his decision to resign taking responsibility for the Congress's national election defeat.

It will be the third time that someone outside the Nehru-Gandhi family will lead the Congress after PV Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri.

Sources say a final decision will involve all three Gandhis - Rahul Gandhi, his mother and former party chief Sonia Gandhi, and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who joined politics in January.

Sushil Kumar Shinde, 77, a former Maharashtra Chief Minister and former union minister, is seen to be the most likely candidate to head the Congress. He was the party's nominee for vice president in 2002.

Besides being a senior leader in Maharashtra, a state where polls are due later this year, Mr Shinde is also a respected Dalit face in the party. He also enjoys the full confidence of the Gandhis.

So does Mallikarjun Kharge, who led the Congress in the previous Lok Sabha and was seen to be effective in leading the opposition charge against the government.

Mr Kharge, 76, suffered his first election defeat in a decades-old political career in the recent Lok Sabha polls. Mr Kharge has also been a union minister in more than one Congress government.

The search for a new Congress president follows Rahul Gandhi's resignation owning the 2019 poll defeat. A new chief will be chosen "within a week", party sources have told NDTV.

In a detailed open letter today, Rahul Gandhi said: "As president of the Congress party, I am responsible for the loss of the 2019 election. Accountability is critical for the future growth of our party. It is for this reason that I have resigned as Congress president."

Rahul Gandhi said rebuilding the party would need hard decisions and "numerous people will have to be made accountable for the failure of 2019" but it would be unjust to hold others accountable and "ignore" his own responsibility.

He said he had tasked a group of people to search for a new president.

Rahul Gandhi also explained: "Most of my colleagues suggested that I nominate the next Congress president. While it is important for me to select that person, it would not be correct for me to select that person".