Voting for the election to decide whether former Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge or Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor will be the next Congress president concluded on Monday evening.

The results will be announced on October 19. The winner will replace the longest-serving Congress President Sonia Gandhi.

While addressing the media after the polling, Congress Central Election Authority Chairperson Madhusudan Mistry said that 9,500 out of 9,900 party delegates eligible to vote cast their ballots. Mistry added that the counting of votes will soon begin across all the states.

“Today we have shown how internal democracy works in a political party, if other parties want to learn a lesson from this they are free to do so,” said Mistry.

Since Monday morning, several senior leaders of the party, including interim President Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi cast their votes.

Rahul Gandhi cast his vote from a campsite of the Bharat Jodo Yatra in the Ballari district of Karnataka.

Kharge and Tharoor also cast their votes in Bengaluru and Thiruvananthapuram respectively.

Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal said that the election was a moment of pride for the party.

“It’s only Congress that can elect party president,” Venugopal told ANI. “We are demonstrating real democracy. Nobody will be rubber stamp president.”

Congress MLA Sachin Pilot also said that the party has set an example for the country by conducting open, democratic and transparent polls.

“I believe whoever wins this election will get full support from all members of the party,” Pilot told the news agency.

This is the first time in over 24 years that no member of the Gandhi family is a candidate for the Congress’ top post. The last such occasion was in 1997, when Sitaram Kesri had emerged victorious against Sharad Pawar and Rajesh Pilot.

Both Kharge and Tharoor have carried out hectic campaigning for the party president’s post. In the past week, Kharge held meetings with 25 Congress state units, while Tharoor held meetings with seven units, The Hindu reported.

On October 10, Tharoor said that some aspects of the election process for the post of the party president suggested an uneven playing field, according to NDTV. The former Union minister, however, claimed that the Gandhi family is neutral in the contest.

On October 7, the Thiruvananthapuram MP had said that no senior party leaders were present at an event that he attended in Tamil Nadu as part of his campaign. He, however, added that he received a warm welcome there from Congress workers.

“At the ensuing press conference, media alleged that office-bearers were told to stay away,” Tharoor wrote on Twitter. “Interestingly dozens of ordinary citizens attended, to show me their support.”

Kharge claimed on October 11 that he was asked to contest the party’s presidential election by Sonia Gandhi.

The former Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha added that Gandhi had called him to her home and asked him to lead the Congress. “I told her that I can suggest three names but she said that she was not asking for names,” he said.