For the third time in succession it was a ‘so near yet so far’ situation for senior Congress leader and Union Labour and Employment Minister M. Mallikarjun Kharge, who once again missed the opportunity to become the Chief Minister of the State by a whisker.

Mr. Kharge, who came close to heading the coalition government after a fractured verdict in the 2004 Assembly elections after the Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) joined hands to form the government, missed the opportunity when JD(S) supremo H.D. Deve Gowda expressed his opposition to Mr. Kharge and offered his support to another senior leader N. Dharam Singh.

In 2008, there was no challenge to the leadership of Mr. Kharge and he led the party from the front in the elections. However, luck eluded him for the second time after the party failed to gain a majority.

The Central party leadership was also not in favour of seeking the support of the JD(S) or the Independents to form the government in the State in 2008 after their bitter experience of coalition politics in 2004.

The Congress high command, which was desperate to win as many seats in the Lok Sabha elections held in 2009, asked Mr. Kharge to resign his membership in the State Assembly and fight the Lok Sabha elections from Gulbarga Lok Sabha Constituency which was reclassified as reserved constituency in the delimitation process. His was one of the two seats won by the Congress that year (the other being the former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh).

The party rewarded Mr. Kharge with a Cabinet Minister’s post. Ironically, Mr. Kharge’s role in national politics is also one of the reasons he has been denied an opportunity to become the Chief Minister in 2013.

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