Mallikarjun Kharge on his way to the finish line
Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge, locally referred to as ‘Solillada Sardara’ is set to win the biggest prize his party has to offer – the post of the President of the Indian National Congress (INC) party.
The staunch Congress leader from Karnataka entered the race for the party president post as the choice of the Gandhis. He has received support from all the Congress leaders including Ashok Gehlot and Digvijaya Singh, who backed out of the race. He is believed to be a nationally accepted face in the party and holds a high chance of winning. Kharge will be contesting against Shashi Tharoor on October 17.
Kharge is a Dalit leader who comes from a humble background and built his political career brick by brick, starting with being the leader of a student union during his time in college in Kalaburagi district. Kharge joined INC in 1969 and became President of the Kalaburagi City Congress Committee.
For the first time, he contested in the 1972 Karnataka State Assembly elections and won from the Gurmitkal constituency. He went on to create electoral history in the Kalaburagi district by registering 10 consecutive wins from 1972 to 2009. Kharge was locally called the ‘Solillada Sardara’ (the leader who never loses) because of his winning streak. However, he lost in 2019 to BJP leader Umesh Jadhav.
In 1976, he held the position of Minister of State for Primary Education. During this period, 16,000 backlogs in vacancies of SC/ST teachers were filled. Under his leadership, grants under the grant-aid code were first awarded to schools administered by SC/ST management.
It’s Gandhis-backed Kharge v/s Tharoor in race for Congress chief post
As nominations closed, an unlikely third candidate — former Jharkhand minister KN Tripathi — also entered the fray
Over the years, he has held various portfolios – primary education, rural development, revenue, and industries. He has worked on various issues like Octroi abolition, the welfare of cobblers, and land reforms.. Kharge has worked in the cabinets of Devraj Urs, Gundu Rao, Bangarappa, and Veerappa Moily. In 2005, he was appointed the President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee.
In June 2020, Kharge was elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, at the age of 78 years. In February 2021, he was appointed Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha. He will now likely resign from his current position to adhere to INC’s “one person, one post” rule.