Party's first Non-Gandhi Leader in 24 Years Defeated Shashi Tharoor
Veteran Mallikarjun Kharge was expectedly elected new Congress president after he trounced rival Shashi Tharoor in a landslide in the party's internal elections, putting an end to Sonia Gandhi's extended term in office and installing the party's first non-Gandhi leader in 24 years. The 98th and current president of Indian National Congress, defeated fellow senior leader and Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor in the PCC elections held on 17 October by over 6,000 votes. Of the total 9,385 votes cast, Kharge received 7,897, while Shashi Tharoor came in last place with 1,072 votes. The party is currently dealing with significant political issues, high-profile withdrawals and defections following a string of electoral setbacks, and extreme factionalism in several States. This is why Mallikarjun Kharge was chosen to be the new president of the Congress.
Following Jagjivan Ram's election as Congress president in 1970, Mallikarjun Kharge is the party's second Dalit president in fifty years. Kharge is a multilingual person who speaks English, Urdu, Hindi, Marathi, and Kannada with ease. The former Union Minister for Railways was educated in a Marathi-medium public school after being born on July 21, 1942, in the Karnataka district of Bidar. At the age of 7, he lost his mother to racial violence. He was profoundly affected by the event, which helped him from his secularist ideology as an adult. The Indian politician claims to be a devout supporter of BR Ambedkar and a practising Buddhist. Sportsmanship is another accomplishment for Mallikarjun Kharge's wall of fame. He excelled at hockey and kabaddi at the state level. He also enjoyed playing cricket and football. The lawmaker used to frequently be spotted at stadiums watching the most recent game till a few years ago. Kharge graduated from Government College in Kalaburagi with a degree in arts. Additionally, he has a law degree from Kalaburagi's Seth Shankarlal Lahoti Law College. He worked for Shivaraj Patil, a labour law specialist who later rose to the position of Supreme Court justice. Due to his nine consecutive elections to the Karnataka legislature between 1972 and 2008, Kharge also goes by the name "Solilada Sardara," which means "undefeated chieftain."
In this era of opportunism and betrayal, Mallikarjun Kharge, who rose through the ranks to become the president of the Congress, exemplifies outstanding perseverance, intellectual conviction, and political fidelity. Kharge, who is widely perceived as a candidate being supported by the Nehru-Gandhi family because of the respect they have for him, has had a spectacular political career supported by his own personal integrity, effort, and hard work. Few politicians in India have been elected to two terms in the Lok Sabha and nine consecutive elections for state assemblies. Kharge's commitment to the organisation has never been in question in the 53 years between being the Gulbarga Congress chairman in 1969 and the party's national president in 2022. In Karnataka, the 80-year-old who defeated the flashy Tharoor was three times a contender for the position of chief minister but remained faithful despite falling short. He had the power to blackmail the central leadership for the position of chief minister because he was the leader of the opposition and the head of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee, but he chose not to. Even though he had no intention of running for party president, Kharge decided to enter the race when an overwhelming majority supported him. Every faction backed him because of his track record, which was reflected in the conclusion of the one-sided contest.
In order for Kharge to assert his authority over cadres, internal coordination must be flawless. This will enable him to move forward with his likely primary mandate of coordination and management, which is crucial given Congress's political marginalisation after 2014, rampant factionalism, and nonstop exodus from party ranks. He will have to cope with Sonia and Rahul, two former leaders of the Congress who are not only actively involved in politics but also hold important positions inside the organisation. While he may use their expertise and influence to his advantage, any miscommunication could pose problems because both enjoy the unwavering allegiance of most congressional staffers. He can become one of the most significant figures in modern politics if he can defeat the several conspiracies within the Congress who want to inflame the relationship between him and the Nehru-Gandhi family and balance his authority with Rahul's status as the party's supreme leader.