Mallikarjun Kharge second leader from Karnataka to become Congress president

His loyalty and non-controversial nature enabled him reach top position in party

October 19, 2022 09:02 pm | Updated October 20, 2022 12:05 am IST - Bengaluru

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi with newly elected Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and his wife Radhabai Kharge in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Congress leaders Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi with newly elected Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and his wife Radhabai Kharge in New Delhi on Wednesday. | Photo Credit: PTI

After a gap of nearly 55 years, Congress leader from Karnataka became the president of the All India Congress Committee (AICC). He is occupying the coveted post with just a few months left for elections in his home State Karnataka.

A staunch loyalist of the Nehru-Gandhi family and veteran leader, Mr. Kharge is the second politician from Karnataka to occupy the post after Lingayat leader the late S. Nijalingappa, who led the party in 1968-69. Mr. Kharge is also the second Dalit leader to hold the post after Jagjivan Ram (1970-1971).

‘Gulbarga twins’

Mr. Kharge climbed the political ladder along with former Chief Minister N. Dharam Singh, who were famously called as “Gulbarga twins” in the Congress. Now, the sons of both leaders are the party’s MLAs.

Unlike the then party president Nijalingappa, who belonged to the “syndicate” within the Congress and revolted against former Prime Minister the late Indira Gandhi in late 1960s, Mr. Kharge is sober by nature. He handled many critical issues in a dignified way.

Die-hard loyalist

It is widely believed that Mr. Khrage is unlikely to cross the Laxman Rekha marked by three members of the Gandhi family - Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, MPs, and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

He has always been loyal to the Gandhi family since he entered politics 55 years ago. In fact, he named his sons Rahul and Priyank after the Gandhi siblings. He never embarrassed the Congress high command when he was denied the chief ministership after 2004 when Congress-JD(S) formed an alliance government headed by Dharam Singh.

Collective leadership

Mr. Kharge is a strong believer in the collective leadership of the party. On Sunday, he said, “I have no enemies. All workers and leaders of the party are my friends’‘. He would seek suggestions from Ms. Sonia Gandhi, and others for strengthening the party, he said.

Unlike his poll opponent Shashi Tharoor, Mr. Kharge came up from grassroot politics and held many positions in the governments in Karnataka and at the Centre as well as in the party.

Self-made man

Born on July 21, 1942, in a year of Quit India Movement, Mr. Kharge is a self-made man. He was able to win elections after elections since 1972 for nine consecutive times and two Lok Sabha elections largely owing to his loyalty, vast administrative experience and his ability to grasp and handle situations, say Congress leaders. Belonging to the Dalit community, Mr. Kharge has never worn his identity on his sleeve.

Many State Congress leaders, including KPCC president D.K. Shivakumar and former KPCC president G. Parameshwara, congratulated Mr. Kharge and described his victory as “a proud moment” for Karnataka.

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