Mallikarjun Kharge must focus all his energy on winning the Assembly polls
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine breathed new life into Turkey’s vision of a Turkish world
stretching from Anatolia to Xinjiang in northwest China.
BY SUSHIL KUTTY
To think that the Congress-led UPA ruled India until just eight years ago is unbelievable. Looks like eight years has been a lifetime for Congress. An exodus from
sorts has emptied Congress of familiar faces. Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had to reestablish the influence of the Gandhi family again with a
presidential election. The last Congress Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is in a wheelchair, a frail image of himself. Several electoral defeats
damaged the reputation of the party. Being out of power has never suited Congress. To put it another way, after eight years of Modi’s rule, things are not improving.
That said, 20 years later, Congress has a non-Gandhi elected president, 80-year-old Mallikarjun Kharge, of whom not much is expected although he
can still surprise. The good thing for Kharge is that he has the unsolicited blessings of the Gandhi family―mother and son and daughter―without which he would have
were lame from day one, which turned out to be October 26.
Kharge faces a mountain of challenges, and among them, stepping out from the shadow of the Gandhi family. Kharge is shamelessly establishing
candidate and that means all is well for the octogenarian dalit face of the big old party. One of the advantages of Kharge is that it keeps everything professional,
neither flippant nor a matter of fact, which suits someone who happens to be the top executive in Congress.
Mallikarjun Kharge, because of his seniority and the vast experience he has accumulated, both in governance and in organization, commands
respect. Even Rahul Gandhi bows to Kharge’s age and experience although there is nothing permanent when it comes to Rahul Gandhi. If Gandhi can stand up
in a downpour, even seniority and experience won’t stand a chance.
Mallikarjun Kharge has Dr Manmohan Singh to teach him how, when and where to walk. Rahul Gandhi was the one who showed Prime Minister Singh how
tear up a prescription and make a clean getaway! Also, how to take an insult and carry on as if nothing had happened. Fortunately, Kharge will have learned from
watching and waiting, which seems to be something that suits him just fine.
That said, Kharge has a handful of assembly elections in 2023, after Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh this year, to show his mettle. Will Kharge is campaigning in
Gujarat and Himachal? He must, if he wants to send a healthy message. Rahul Gandhi is too triggered by Bharat Jodo Yatra to turn away from his 2024 mission.
Kharge faces the challenge of charting for himself and for Congress a plan independent of Rahul Gandhi. Avoid stepping on Rahul Gandhi’s toes
will be difficult enough while fulfilling the mandate of the President of the Congress. Don’t expect the “high command” to come to your aid. Kharge must have known
in advance that agreeing to be on the ticket would land him on a thin layer of ice.
A major challenge for the Congress President will be to retain Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, the two states where elections are scheduled for 2023, as well as
Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. Time is running out and Kharge must gather all his resources. In Rajasthan, in particular, anti-incumbency would be
weigh an airplane.
In all these states, Congress and the BJP will have direct contests, although Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi party will do everything possible to play its nuisance
role. As far as Congress is concerned, the weight of expectations will rest on Kharge. The Gandhis will only intervene once the battles have been won or
lost. Kharge’s stoic manner should spare him the histrionics if he loses the plate.
Because, unlike Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kharge is not a showman. There’s a strange stability in Kharge, someone with a steady keel in the chop
waters. Kharge’s challenges also include getting Congress in order and on track for election challenges. If Rahul Gandhi with ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is
the face of Congress for 2024, Kharge must become the engine of the party. Not Rahul Gandhi, it will be Kharge who will take the Modi-
The Shah’s juggernaut in the United States and the 2024 general election.
Kharge’s first task with regard to the party apparatus begins immediately. His CWC picks will give direction to Congress. Will he be magnanimous for
include Shashi Tharoor in the highest decision-making body in Congress? Tharoor must in retrospect think he shouldn’t have been so aggressive and
fickle as he was during his campaign for the office of President of Congress. Tharoor must have learned a thing or two from Kharge.
That being said, with “Internal Democracy” back in Congress after the presidential election, Kharge the “Statuquoist” faces the challenge of not giving
no possibility for the “high command” to complain. Nothing he does should change the status of the Gandhi family. The day of the counting of votes
for the Congress President election, Rahul Gandhi has said he will take on whatever role “Khargeji” had in mind for him, but Mallikarjun Kharge knows better.
Come to think of it, if Rahul Gandhi gives Kharge a hand, he’ll learn a thing or two about staying out of trouble while staying relevant. APIs