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India's Congress party to pick 1st non-Gandhi president in decades

Beleaguered opposition hopes to kick-start comeback but critics question process

From left, Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, and Shashi Tharoor, 66, are battling to become the new president of India's opposition Congress party. (Source photos by AP and Reuters)

NEW DELHI -- India's Congress party is set for its first competitive presidential election in over two decades on Monday, generating a buzz within its ranks and capturing the attention of rival parties and the public.

This will mark the first time since Sonia Gandhi took the reins in 1998 that someone from outside the family will be in charge of the country's oldest political outfit, founded in 1885. Her son, Rahul Gandhi, quit as president after Congress suffered a drubbing in the 2019 general election, leaving the party without an official chief, though Sonia has been serving as interim president and Rahul has remained a de facto leader.

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