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D-Day for Congress as It Votes to Elect Sonia’s Successor: List of Non-Gandhi Chiefs at Helm Since 1947

By: Saurabh Verma

News18.com

Last Updated: October 19, 2022, 15:17 IST

New Delhi, India

The results of the Congress presidential poll will be declared on Wednesday. (PTI Photos)

The results of the Congress presidential poll will be declared on Wednesday. (PTI Photos)

Tharoor, a former diplomat, has promised to bring changes in the party and said leaders like Kharge can’t bring change and will continue the system. On the other hand, Kharge said there is a fight against the RSS and the BJP but not among ourselves and added he would implement Udaipur declaration if elected

It’s a D-Day for Congress who will vote today in the historic election to pick the successor of Sonia Gandhi who led the party for around two decades. Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge will take on Thiruvanthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor in the first election for the top post in the party in 22 years. The last poll took place in November 2000 when Sonia Gandhi defeated Jitendra Prasada by a big margin.

It would be the sixth time in its nearly 137-year-old history that an electoral contest would decide who would take up the mantle of the party’s president.

“This is actually the sixth time that the Congress is having internal elections for its president in its 137-year-history. The media has highlighted 1939, 1950, 1997 and 2000. In fact, there had been elections too in 1977 when Kasu Brahmananda Reddy was elected,” Congress general secretary in-charge communications Jairam Ramesh told PTI.

In the history of over 130-year-old party, Sonia Gandhi remains the longest serving party president. She took over party’s control from Sitaram Kesri following the 1998 Lok Sabha polls and has been at the helm since then barring a two-year period between 2017-19 when Rahul Gandhi became Congress president.

The polling for the Congress presidential election will be held on October 17. The counting of votes will be taken up on October 19 and the results will be declared the same day. More than 9,000 Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates will vote in the poll.

Tharoor, a former diplomat, has promised to bring changes in the party and said leaders like Kharge can’t bring change and will continue the system. On the other hand, Kharge said there is a fight against the RSS and the BJP but not among ourselves and added he would implement Udaipur declaration if elected.

As a non-Gandhi family leader is set to lead the grand-old-party, here’s a look at those leaders who did not come from Gandhi-Nehru family background but served as party presidents so far since India’s independence.

J B KRIPALANI – 1947

The Congress was being led by J B Kripalani when the country achieved its freedom from the British rule. Popularly known as Acharya Kripalani, the leader was involved in party’s affairs in several movements for country’s independence. The four-time Lok Sabha MP later left the party to form the Kisan Majdoor Praja Party.

PATTABHI SITARAMAYYA (1948-49)

Sitaramayya entered in the Congress presidential contest with the support of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1948 and emerged victorious. Sitaramayya was the Governor of Madhya Pradesh from 1952-57. He was one of the prominent leaders who demanded for the separate state of Andhra Pradesh.

PURUSHOTTAM DAS TANDON – 1950

In 1950, Tandon claimed the top post after winning the battle against Kripalani. Years later, he resigned from his post reportedly over differences with Nehru.

U N DHEBAR (1955-59)

After Nehru’s first stint as Congress president, Dhebar took over the reins of the party and remained at the helm for four years. He also served the Chief Minister of Saurashtra from 1948-54.

NEELAM SANJIVA REDDY (1960-63)

Reddy succeeded Indira Gandhi as Congress president in 1960. However, he left the politics and resigned from the party in 1967. He was also the sixth President of India.

K KAMARAJ (1964-67)

According to reports, Indira’s rise as Congress president could not become possible due to Kamaraj. Popularly known as “kingmaker”, Kamaraj, a Syndicate leader, formed the Congress (O) after the split with Indira Gandhi-led Congress.

S NIJALINGAPPA (1968-69)

Nijalingappa was the last president of the undivided Congress party before its split. However, he joined the Syndicate leaders.

JAGJIVAN RAM (1970-71)

Jagjivan Ram served as the president of Indira Gandhi-led Congress. After the emergency, he left the Congress in 1977 to join the Janata Party. He also founded his own party Congress (J) in 1981. During the 1971 India-Pakistan war, he served as the defence minister of India.

SHANKAR DAYAL SHARMA (1972-74)

Sharma took over as the president of Congress during the AICC session in Calcutta (Kolkata) in 1972. He was the President of India from 1992 to 1997.

DEVAKANTA BARUA (1975-77)

Barua was leading the Congress as party president during the emergency. He was one of Indira Gandhi’s staunch supporters and is remembered for his proclamation “India is Indira, Indira is India”.

P V NARASIMHA RAO (1992-96)

Following Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, Rao became the Congress president in 1992. He was also the first prime minister from a non-Hindi speaking region.

SITARAM KESRI (1996-98)

In 1996, Kesri became the president of Congress. His term saw the exit of several senior party leaders and defeat in 1998 Lok Sabha elections.

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first published:October 17, 2022, 08:38 IST
last updated:October 19, 2022, 15:17 IST
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