Mallikarjun Kharge elected as new Congress Chief

Mallikarjun Kharge elected as new Congress Chief

October 20, 2022

To assume office on Oct.2

New Delhi: Amid the daunting task of reversing its electoral slide which began with the defeat in the 2014 LS polls, the Congress on Wednesday elected veteran Party leader from Karnataka Mallikarjun Kharge, a first from non-Gandhi family, to head the 137-year-old party in 22 years.

Kharge succeeds long-time Party Chief Sonia Gandhi, who headed the party since 1998, barring for two years when her son Rahul Gandhi was incharge (2017 to 2019).

The 80-year-old Kharge, a foremost Dalit leader from Kalaburagi in Karnataka, trounced his only rival 66-year old Shashi Tharoor, the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. The poll was held on Oct.17 and the counting of votes was taken up yesterday. Kharge secured 7,897 votes out of the 9,385 votes cast while Tharoor succeeded in getting just 1,072 votes. A total of 416 votes were declared invalid, according to Madhusudhan Mistry, Chairman of the Central Election Authority of the Party.

Kharge will be second leader from Karnataka to head the Congress after S. Nijalingappa. Kharge is also the third Dalit leader to hold the AICC President post after Damodaram Sanjeevaiah (1962) and Jagjivan Ram (1969) and the tenth from South India to head the Congress party.

Kharge will take charge as the new AICC President on Oct.26.

In his first statement after winning the Congress Presidential election, Kharge asserted that he would fight for the ‘restoration of democracy’, which the ruling BJP has been trying to vanquish by destroying all democratic institutions.

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He also thanked Sonia Gandhi for reviving the party during her more than two decades stint and leading the party to form Governments at the Centre twice (2004 and 2009). He would seek suggestions from Sonia Gandhi and other party veterans and leaders for strengthening the party, he added.

Conceding defeat, Tharoor congratulated Kharge and also thanked the outgoing President Sonia Gandhi for her leadership and hoped she would continue to guide the party. Later, Tharoor met Kharge at his residence and promised to work together for the revival of the party.

Born at Waravatti village in Bhalki taluk of Bidar district on July 21, 1942, Kharge began his political sojourn by forming an association of headload workers in MSK Mills at Kalaburagi. Later Kharge climbed the political ladder along with former Chief Minister Dharam Singh, who were famously called as ‘Gulbarga twins’ in the Congress. Now the sons of both leaders are the party MLAs (Priyank Kharge and Ajay Singh).

Kharge had entered the contest at the last minute after the Gandhi family’s bet on other veteran leader Ashok Gehlot, the current Rajasthan Chief Minister, had backfired.

Kharge has always been loyal to the Gandhi family since he entered politics about 55 years ago. He is unlikely to cross the ‘Laxman Rekha’ marked by the three members of the Gandhi family — Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, both MPs and AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi. Kharge is a strong believer in collective leadership of the party.

Unlike his poll opponent Shashi Tharoor, Kharge came up from grass-root level and held many positions in the Congress Governments in Karnataka and at the Centre. He is a self-made man and began his electoral politics by winning elections since 1972 for nine consecutive times in the Assembly and the LS polls from Kalaburagi two times, until he was defeated by the BJP candidate in the 2019 LS polls. Though belonging to the Dalit community, Kharge is a Buddhist by inclination as he had said in 2008 during the inauguration of the renovated Buddha Vihara  in Bengaluru.

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Mallikarjun Kharge and Radhabai Kharge couple is blessed with three sons — Priyank Kharge (MLA), Rahul Kharge (Advisor for IT companies) and Milind Kharge; two daughters — Priyadarshini Kharge (doctor) and Jayashree Kharge.

Sonia visits Kharge’s residence

Soon after the declaration of Mallikarjun Kharge’s thumping victory, outgoing Congress President Sonia Gandhi, General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and other top Congressmen were among the leaders who visited Kharge’s residence to congratulate him.

Though Kharge had sought an appointment from the official residence of Sonia Gandhi at No.10, Janpath, it was declined as Sonia had other plans. She drove straight to the residence of Kharge at No.10, Rajaji Marg, to congratulate him on his huge victory, thus breaking the past practice.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi too greeted Kharge on his election as AICC President and wished him a fruitful tenure. Modi took to twitter to congratulate Kharge on his new responsibility.


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