Mallikarjun Kharge Formally Takes Over as Congress President

NEW DELHI: Mallikarjun Kharge, 80 who in an eventful election last week outclassed Shashi Tharoor took oath as the successor of Sonia Gandhi and the first non Gandhi President of the Congress in nearly two and a half decades at the AICC HQs in Delhi.

Chairman of the Congress Central Election Authority, Madhusudan Mistry, handing over the election certificate to Kharge said, “It was on January 15, 1998, in Bengaluru when Sonia Gandhi at her first public rally said she’s taking her first political lessons from Karnataka. Her politics has been that of sacrifice, above self-interest and quest for power alone”.

Interacting with the media as the chief of the party for the first time, Kharge said, “It’s an emotional moment for me as the son of a labourer, a common Congress worker, has taken over as party chief. It’s a matter of pride to carry forward the legacy of the Congress.” Kharge has billed “consensus and consultation” as his leadership strategy. He met with former PM Manmohan Singh at his home yesterday. This morning, he paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi at his memorial, Rajghat. He also visited memorials of former PMs Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, besides former deputy PM Jagjivan Ram, who was the first Dalit chief of the Congress; Mr Kharge is the second.

The event was attended by Sonia Gandhi along with Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi. Rahul is on a three-day break from his Bharat Jodo Yatra from October 24 to 26.

Major challenges on the list for Kharge include the upcoming elections in Himachal Pradesh along with similar events in Gujarat where the Congress has been running an admittedly lowkey campaign as its hopes of unseating the BJP aren’t visibly high.

In 2023, a bigger test awaits Mr Kharge. The year will see nine assembly elections, including in Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, the only two states where the Congress has chief ministers.

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