Nothing without Gandhis: Kharge who? Sonia at top as campaigner for HP

The campaigner list clearly indicates that Sonia Gandhi is still the supreme boss of the party.

| Updated: 23 October, 2022 1:05 pm IST
Photo Credit: Sumit Kumar

 With less than three weeks to go for the crucial Himachal Pradesh assembly elections, the Congress on Sunday released its list of star campaigners . While it is part of the regular rigmarole of election campaigns, the list offers an insight into the power dynamics in the Congress after the party got a new chief. A cursory look at the list shows that Mallikarjun Kharge’s election as the party’s head seems to have had no effect on the organizational structure of the leading Opposition party in the country. This is evident from the fact that Mrs. Sonia Gandhi features on top of the list of star campaigners for Himachal polls with newly elected Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge placed below her.

The list of star campaigners with name of outgoing party chief Sonia Gandhi as top campaigner and president Kharge as number two, putting the focus back on Gandhi family that it still enjoys the command on the party. The list of star campaigners also included the names of former party chief Rahul Gandhi and his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, besides the name of Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt, who is son of veteran Congress leader and noted film actor Sunil Dutt.

Kharge, 80, was on Wednesday elected as the new Congress president, the first non-Gandhi to hold the top post in 24 years. A veteran Congressman from Karnataka, Kharge has a long organisational, electoral and administrative record and he belongs to the Dalit community.

The list also includes names of Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot and Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel, senior leaders Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Harish Rawat, Raj Babbar, Mukul Wasnik, Anand Sharma, Rajeev Shukla, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Himachal Pradesh Congress chief Pratibha Singh and her son Vikramaditya Singh, Sachin Pilot, Deepender Hooda, Pawan Khera and many others.

During the elections in which Kharge was pitted against Shashi Tharoor, all members of Gandhi family refrained from campaigning or expressing their opinion on who should win. Yet, it was largely understood that Kharge was the family favourite and was destined to emerge victorious at the end.

All possible contenders for the post had withdrawn their canditature.  Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot pulled out of the presidential race following crisis of leadership sparked in Rajasthan over Rahul Gandhi’s one-man-one-post rule. Even veteran leader Digvijaya Singh decided not to contest the polls after Kharge entered the ring.

Priyanka Gandhi had addressed a public meeting in Himachal Pradesh’s Solan last week in the poll bound hill state.

The polling for the 68 member assembly will take place on November 12 in single phase and counting of votes will take place on December 8. The Congress is eyeing a comeback in the assembly elections where it is directly in contest with the ruling-BJP.

The Congress has released names of 63 candidates in two lists till date.

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