Mallikarjun Kharge is a top-ranking leader in Karnataka politics. A Dalit, the son of a mill worker of the once-backward Gulbarga, is a self-made man. In the last 49 years, after his first victory in the 1972 assembly elections, Kharge has always been loyal to the Gandhi family in and out of power.
Those who have been watching them for decades say that they can grow in the party hierarchy because of their loyalty, patience, vast administrative experience, and their ability to understand any situation.
A reserved person in private life, Kharge gets angry when people refer to him as a Dalit leader. “I am a Dalit. this is true. But, I have reached here because of my caliber and hard work. Every caste and religion has supported me. Call me the leader of the Congress, the leader of the people. Not just Dalit leaders. I consider it an insult. I am doing something big because I am capable, not because I am a Dalit, ”he has said many times in the past.
When Kharge was made the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha after Narendra Modi became Prime Minister in 2014, the national media attributed it to his caste. Some Lutyens’ media persons and courtiers in Delhi also insulted him and insulted him. But a strong and experienced Kharge, while targeting the Modi government in the Lok Sabha, also proved all of them wrong, even falsifying the Prime Minister’s praise for his conduct in the House. His performance impressed both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
A lawyer in the field of education, 27-year-old Kharge first entered the Karnataka Legislative Assembly in 1972. The then Chief Minister D. Devaraj Urs Young was impressed by the abilities of the Scheduled Caste MLA and made him a minister. At that time the top leaders of Karnataka were SM Krishna, S Bangarappa, M Veerappa Moily, KH Ranganath, MY Ghorpade and many other cabinet colleagues. From 1972, Kharge was a minister in every Congress government in Karnataka until he went to New Delhi to try his luck in national politics. It speaks of his stature and importance within the party.
Kharge was a junior leader of the Karnataka Congress during Indira Gandhi. He became a middle-level leader during the Rajiv Gandhi days and emerged as a top-ranking leader from the 1990s onwards. His unwavering faith in the Gandhi family has helped him through difficult times in his career.
“In the last 50 years, many people tried to say something bad about the Gandhi family. But he always remained silent, refusing to be part of intra-party intrigues. It has helped them a lot, ”said a senior Congress leader from Karnataka.
A good administrator, Kharge has held various responsibilities at both the state and the center, including the state Congress president, the Leader of the Opposition, the Cabinet Minister with important portfolios, the Union Cabinet Minister, the Congress Working Committee member, the party general secretary. To name a few.
The Gandhi family, who have faithfulness above everything, has now made him the leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha, who has a big responsibility on his shoulder. Kharge feels that he is capable of handling that task. He feels that loyalty is one of many factors.
The prestigious post of chief minister of Karnataka sidelined Kharge for decades. With the rise of new, much younger leaders in the state, it can always become a dream for him. A practical politician, Kharge knows it well.