India’s Congress party elects first non-Gandhi head in 24 years


India’s Congress party on Wednesday appointed an octogenarian ex-minister as its first president in 24 years not from the Gandhi dynasty, in an effort to reverse its apparent decline into political oblivion.

Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, was elected by members to replace Sonia Gandhi as president of the once-mighty party that helped win India’s independence from Britain 75 years ago.

The Indian National Congress governed India for decades after independence in 1947 but is now a shadow of its former self, discredited and crushed under the electoral juggernaut of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Gandhi family is not related to India’s independence icon Mahatma Gandhi, but descended from the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.—AFP

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