Let’s move on, tweets Tharoor, ‘the election was to strengthen INC, not divide it'
Shashi Tharoor was among the first to call on Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday to congratulate him for getting elected as the Congress president
Even before results were formally announced, senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor, who lost to Mallikarjun Kharge elected the next Congress President, congratulated the veteran leader on Twitter and called on him. It is a great honour and a huge responsibility to be president of the Indian National Congress, he tweeted, and I wish Kharge Ji all success in that task.
While a section of the media played up complaints of alleged irregularities in voting made by his team, Tharoor was quick to distance himself. “It was unfortunate that a strictly internal letter to the Central Election Authority of the Congress was leaked to the media; I hope this clarification by Salman Soz ends an unnecessary controversy. This election was meant to strengthen the Congress, not to divide it. Let us move on,” he tweeted.
Tharoor was referring to a clarification issued by Salman Soz, which read, “In light of complaints from our UP team yesterday, we wrote to the Party’s CEA immediately, a standard practice. Subsequent discussions with the CEA have assured us of a fair inquiry. We have agreed for the counting to continue and our team looks forward to the results.”
News agency ANI in the morning posted the five-page letter signed by Salman Soz to the chairman of the Central Election Authority of the Congress, Madhusudan Mistry. At his media briefing, Mistry was repeatedly asked to comment on the complaints. He stoutly denied any irregularity and declared that the CEA would be sending a point-wise reply to Soz. He refused to make the reply public, saying, “Just because they have leaked an internal letter does not mean that we should also follow them”.
Following persistent questioning by the media, Mistry conceded that the complaint related to two of the six ballot boxes used at the polling booth in Lucknow. All the ballot boxes, he pointed out, were sealed but the two ballot boxes in question had tags missing. The Returning Officer at Lucknow, he explained, was asked to be present during the counting and explain to counting agents of the two candidates what had happened.
No complaint other than this, he said, was received by the CEA and even if all the ballots in the two disputed ballot boxes were declared invalid or transferred to one of the candidates, it would not have affected the result.
Over 400 ballots were declared invalid, he informed. Some of the ballot boxes were signed by the delegates and hence were rejected. Some delegates had written the name of Rahul Gandhi leading to the ballots, which required only a tick mark, being declared invalid.
Asked why state-wise results were not counted and declared, Mistry explained that the decision to mix the ballots before counting was taken because of the apprehension that voting behaviour of delegates would be traced to individuals and to the states.