Mallikarjun Kharge officially takes over as Congress Speaker

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Veteran leader Mallikarjun Kharge will officially take office as Congress speaker on Wednesday after receiving the certificate of election at a ceremony here.

Hectic preparations were underway at Congress headquarters on Tuesday for the ceremony in which incumbent President Sonia Gandhi will hand over the reins to Kharge, the first non-Gandhi to lead the party in 24 years.

Kharge beat Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor in a direct contest for the big old party’s top job after the Gandhis dropped out of the running.

Prior to taking office, Kharge visited former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence and spent time with him.

On Wednesday morning, Kharge will pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and will also visit the memorials of former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, in addition to former Deputy Prime Minister Jagjivan Ram.

Meanwhile, security personnel and workers made last-minute arrangements in the Congress President‘s office and on the lawns of the AICC headquarters where a tent was set up.

Chairman of the Congress Central Electoral Authority, Madhusudan Mistry, will officially hand over the electoral certificate to Kharge during the ceremony on Wednesday, which will also see the presence of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.

Kharge, 80, takes the reins of the party at a time when it faces a daunting challenge from a formidable BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi that has ousted Congress from many states.

For Kharge, who served as opposition leader in Karnataka Assembly, congress leader in Lok Sabha and opposition leader in Rajya Sabha, the current assignment comes at a time when the party is at an all-time low. , electorally.

With Congress now remaining in power in only two states – Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh – on its own and as Jharkhand’s junior partner, Kharge’s first challenge is to bring the party to power in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat. , who go to the polls in the coming weeks.

Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh will take place on 12 November. Election dates in Gujarat have yet to be announced.

In 2023, Kharge will face the daunting task of leading Congress in nine assembly elections, including in his home state of Karnataka, where he served as a provincial deputy for nine terms.

Kharge’s election also comes at a time when the party is reeling from internal rumblings and high-profile exits after a series of election debacles and has been reduced to the shadow of its former formidable self.

Beginning his career as Head of Gulbarga Municipal Council, Kharge also served as Minister of State and Lok Sabha MP for Gulbarga (2009 and 2014).

The old war horse is well known for not having lost an election except for the 2019 Lok Sabha poll in Gulbarga.

It was after this loss that Sonia Gandhi brought Kharge to Rajya Sabha and in February 2021 made him the Leader of the Opposition.

Kharge also faces the challenge of restoring the primacy of Congress in the opposition space, implementing the sweeping reforms the party embarked on in mid-May ‘Chintan Shivir’ in Udaipur, and maintaining its independence in the face of insinuations that he is a candidate of the Gandhis and would seek their approval in all decisions.

The last non-Gandhi Congress president was Sitaram Kesri, who was unceremoniously removed from office in 1998 just after two years of his five-year term.

A leader with over 50 years of experience in politics, Kharge is also the second Chairman of the Indian Congress Committee (AICC) from Karnataka after S Nijalingappa and also the second Dalit leader after Jagjivan Ram to hold the post.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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