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India's Congress party elects Gandhi loyalist Kharge to lead revival

80-year-old tasked with energizing party to challenge Modi's BJP

Mallikarjun Kharge meets with students in Ahmedabad on Oct. 7 ahead of his election as the president of the Indian National Congress party.   © AP

NEW DELHI -- The Indian National Congress, the country's "grand old party," has elected its first president outside the Gandhi family in over 20 years, officials announced on Wednesday.

Party veteran and Gandhi family loyalist Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, defeated diplomat-turned-politician Shashi Tharoor, 66, by 7,897 votes to 1,072, according to Madhusudan Mistry, chairman of the Congress' Central Election Authority. About 400 votes were deemed invalid.

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