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Mallikarjun Kharge: An Ambedkarite lawyer who powered through the rigours of life

Congress gets the second Dalit President after Babu Jagjivan Ram in 1970.

Senior Congress leader and MP Mallikarjun Kharge has been elected the National President of the Indian National Congress. Kharge defeated his close rival Shashi Tharoor by a huge margin. While the former labour union leader got 7897 votes, the former diplomat could get only 1072 votes. While It is after a gap of 24 years that a Non-Gandhi has taken over the Presidency of the grand old party, it is after a gap of 52 years that a Dalit has taken over the top post.

The voting for the President of the party was held on the 17th of October. The results were declared by Madhusudan Mistry, who acted as a Returning Officer for the internal election. What added to the excitement of the elections was that none of the members of the Gandhi family was in the race. Mallikarjun kharge was a clear favorite in this election because of the purported support of the Gandhi family.

After his election, wishes came pouring in for kharge. Ex-Congress President, Sonia Gandhi, former President Rahul Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, and INC General Secretary K.C. Venugopal were among the leaders, who congratulated Kharge.

Mallikarjun Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge

A Life full of struggles.

Kharge was born in Warvatti village, Bidar district of  Nizam-ruled Mysore state(Karnataka)  of British India. His village was not untouched by violence when post-partition riots broke out. Nizam was adamant about acceding his territory to Pakistan, which was not possible geographically. His village was set afire by the Nizami militia, and his mother and sister became victims to the whims of Nizam and were burnt alive. He saw them being consigned to the flames, but couldn’t do anything. His father rescued him to a jungle. After spending some months in the jungle, he moved to Gulbarga city; where he got his schooling done, as his father chose to get him educated, instead of making him work.

First Dalit Advocate of the District.

After completing his graduation from the Government College in Gulbarga, he received his law degree from Seth Shankarlal Lahoti Law College, which made him the first Dalit advocate of the district. He litigated free for the poor so that no one is deprived of justice for the want of money.

An Ambedkarite and Buddhist leader.

Mallikarjun Kharge is an Ambedkarite leader and a follower of Buddhism. To take the teachings of Buddha and Ambedkar’s thoughts to the masses, he built a BudhVihar in the outskirts of the Gulbarga District. He also is the Chairman of Siddharth Vihar trust.

His political journey

Mallikarjun started his political career as a Union leader. He fought cases of poor labourers for free, which made him popular amongst the poor peasants, particularly Dalits. His popularity made him the District President of congress in 1970, incidentally, the same year Congress also got its first Dalit President. In 1972, he contested the Gurmitkal Vidhan Sabha seat and won, he continued his winning streak for 9 consecutive Assembly elections, of which 8 came from Gurmitkal.

Social welfare through politics

Kharge had always selflessly devoted himself to the downtrodden, his early years as a lawyer are a testimony to his commitment as he selflessly fought for the rights of the workers and became a popular union leader.

YearPortfolioWork
1974Chairman, Leather Development CommissionerProvided workshed-cum-residences to the cobblers and workers involved in the leather tanning Industry
1976Minister of State for Primary Education, Government of Karnataka16,000 backlog vacancies belonging to SC/ST  were filled up. Grant-in-aid were also given to schools run by SC/ST management.
1978Minister of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Karnataka 
1980Minister of Revenue, Government of KarnatakaEnabled millions of landless tillers to get occupancy rights.
1985Deputy Leader of Opposition 
1990Minister of RevenueResumed the land reform process
2000Minister of HomeSecured the release of Veteran actor Rajkumar.
Mallikarjun Kharge
Mallikarjun Kharge

The National Role

He switched to national politics in 2009 and contested the Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat for the first time. In 2014, he won the Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat for the second time and was made the Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha. In 2020, he was elected to Rajya Sabha, which enabled him to become Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, a post he held until 1 October 2022, when he decided to contest for the Presidency of the Indian National Congress.

 List of the Congress President

1947: J.B Kriplani

1948-49- Pattabhi Sitaramayya

1950- Purshottam Das Tandon

1951-54 – Jawahar Lal Nehru

1955-59- U.N. Debhar

1959- Indira Gandhi

1960-63- Neelam Sanjeev Reddy

1964- 1967- K. Kamraj

1968-69- S. Nijalingappa

1970-71- Babu Jagjivan Ram

1972-74 Shankar Dayal Sharma

1975-77- Devkanta Barua

1977-78- Brahmanand Reddy

During the period congress witnessed a split and Indira Gandhi became the President of the Congress(I) faction till her death in 1984.

1985-91- Rajeev Gandhi

1992-96- P.V. Narsimha Rao

1996-98- Sitaram Kesari

1998-2017- Sonia Gandhi

2022- Mallikarjuna Kharge

[Story Translated by Pratikshit Singh]

Arun Kr Verma
Arun Kr Verma
Journalist, The Mooknayak

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