By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit
Mallikarjun Kharge (80) deserves kudos for being elected as the first non-Gandhi leader after 24 years to occupy the party’s top post. Kharge defeated fellow Congress politician Shashi Tharoor to become the first Dalit to hold the position. He is a veteran politician born five years before independence and is widely believed to have the backing of both Sonia and Rahul. There is no doubt that he will be now facing mammoth challenge of winning the next national election, due in 2024, and three state elections next year.
Kharge was seen as the favourite to win the contest. He is often called ’soliladasardara’, a warrior who knows no defeat. He studied law at the Seth Shankarlal Lahoti College in Gulbarga where as a junior he won many labour union cases. Later on, he went on to become a labour leader at the Centre. He joined Congress way back in 1969 and since then he has held an array of portfolios across different profiles. He became the President of the Gulbarga City Congress Committee in 1969.He has been a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha from Karnataka since February 16, 2021. From then to October 1, 2022, he also was the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament. He has held several other portfolios under different cabinets and ministers all his life. His rise to the position of the Congress chief as a Dalit leader is being viewed as a strong political move ahead of the Karnataka Assembly Elections in May 2023. Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot has rightly said that It’s a moment of pride that Mallikarjun Kharge became Congress President, he is an experienced leader. Congress will strengthen under his leadership, and our party is united across the country. Kharge’s biggest opportunity came in 2014 when the Congress suffered a humiliating defeat and was reduced to just 44 members in the Lok Sabha. Kharge, who won from Gulbarga for the second time, was made leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha.
Founded in 1885, the Congress led the country to freedom from British colonial rule. It has dominated India’s post-independence politics, ruling the country for 54 of the past 70 years, either on its own or as the leader of coalition governments. In the process the party has failed to reform its organization or tackle issues related to its functioning and leadership that may have contributed to its decline and fall. In 1993 when Ajitsingh with his followers joined the party, it became a majority government under P.V. Narsimaha Rao. This single dominant party system has done some good to the country. It was due to this that political stability came in the country, which otherwise the nation would have lost. But at the same time the Congress-men took it for granted that India was for them to be governed and this created many problems as well.
The Congress’s failure to project a suitable chief ministerial candidate in most of the elections must have harmed its prospects. The results in different states are a lesson for the Congress Party; it is on a steady decline in the country’s political arena. The Congress is surely losing its power base across the country, and for good reason. The results are a lesson for the Congress Party; it is on a steady decline in the country’s political arena. The Congress’ revival pivots on its ability to address its crisis of credibility, encouraging State leaders, and functioning as a vigorous Opposition in Parliament. The Congress party has been suffering from a leadership crisis, with Rahul Gandhi widely seen as a failure, indifferent and incompetent.
Kharge was a minister in all Congress governments after that while he was an MLA — the Gundu Rao Ministry in 1980, the S Bangarappa Cabinet in 1990 and the M Veerappa Moily government from 1992 to 1994. He was Leader of the Opposition in 1996-99 and 2008-09, and president of the state Congress from 2005-08, before he moved to national politics in 2009, when he entered the Lok Sabha for the first time. Khargeis gentle and soft-spoken, sober by temperament and nature, and has never landed in any political spot or controversy and there is not doubt that he will play a vital role in bringing back the glory of Congress party.
Congress gets new face Mallikarjun Kharge
By: Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit