Shillong: Fifty-six of the Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) delegates voted in the polls held on Monday to elect the next All India Congress Committee (AICC) president, a senior leader of the party said.
MPCC president and Lok Sabha member from Shillong, Vincent H. Pala, who was the first to cast his vote at the Congress Bhavan here, said that four delegates from four assembly blocks could not cast their votes as the blocks had delayed in submitting the names of their nominees.
Pala said that the party delegates are free to vote for either Shashi Tharoor or the other candidate Rajya Sabha MP, Mallikarjun Kharge.
The election to the party President’s post is being held after a gap of 22 years. During this period members from the Gandhi family held the post uncontested.
“It’s a free and fair election and based on the wisdom of the voters, who are the delegates, either of the two candidates stands a chance to win,” Pala said.
On the Gandhi family’s influence on the election, Pala said this is not the first time the AICC president will be a non-Gandhi.
“I have worked with them in the past and both (Tharoor-Kharge) are competent. Gandhi or non-Gandhi families, it depends on how we work together and bring the team together,” he said.
The Congress, which had ruled Meghalaya for several years, currently has no member in the state assembly with majority of its elected legislators having switched sides to the Trinamool Congress, making it the main opposition party in the state.
While five other Congress MLAs, who had extended support to the National People’s Party (NPP)-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA), which also includes the BJP have lost their party membership after being suspended and are likely to join the NPP ahead of the assembly elections due early next year, according to political circles.