Ahead of 2024, key Opposition leaders pitch for larger role for Kharge
Sonia Gandhi announced Kharge is “best suited to lead the Congress Party in this historic battle for India’s soul”
Key Opposition leaders including former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday, pitched for a “larger role” for party president Mallikarjun Kharge’s in the upcoming 2024 elections, at an event to release a book titled “Mallikarjun Kharge: Political Engagement with Compassion, Justice, and Inclusive Development.” Opposition leaders also resolved to strengthen the unity of the INDIA bloc , with some airing views that Kharge should lead the block.
Gandhi announced Kharge is “best suited to lead the Congress Party in this historic battle for India’s soul”, days before the results of the five assembly elections—dubbed as the semi-finals to the 2024 Lok Sabha polls—come out.
In her keynote address, Gandhi hailed Kharge’s commitment and ideology: “His illustrious life and work exemplifies the values that the founders and architects of modern India espoused. Embodying the indomitable Indian spirit, he has overcome multiple adversities in his long journey. Leading by example, he symbolises the belief that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can rise to ever greater heights in the service of the nation. That is, and will continue to be an inspiration to millions of Indians drawn to be in public service.”
Kharge, 81, was elected as the Congress president on October 26 last year. Under his rule, the party has won two assembly polls in Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh and has been able to bring at least 27 parties under the umbrella of the INDIA bloc that has resolved to fight the 2024 Lok Sabha election together.
In his speech, Kharge said, “From being an ordinary worker I could reach this position because of democracy and the Constitution. Today, both the Constitution and parliamentary democracy are in danger. People in power don’t believe in the Constitution. They have said they are waiting for the right time to change it and bring their own Constitution.”
Gandhi underlined that Kharge always placed the party organisation above his personal interest and described him as “a wise companion and a pillar of strength.”
“He has shared many of my burdens with stoic courage, unwavering kindness and a sharp wit. Today, he helms the Congress Party at a crucial juncture. Those in power, unhinged from constitutional and institutional values, are subverting or demolishing all those institutions, systems and principles by which India has thrived since our Independence. As a strong organisational leader who enjoys our confidence, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge is best suited to lead the Congress Party in this historic battle for India’s soul. In this, he has my steadfast support and that of the Congress Party,” Gandhi said.
Before Gandhi spoke, TR Balu of the DMK, one of the Congress’ oldest allies mentioned: “It is more important (that) the senior-most leader of INDIA group, Kharge ji, should lead the parties together without any problem so that we can win 2024.”
Similarly, RJD’s Rajya Sabha leader Manoj Jha quoted Congress lawmaker Abhishek Manu Singhi’s prediction that for Kharge “there is no culmination yet”. Jha announced that “Culmination will be beautiful and very high for you, the country and for all of us.”
CPIM’s Sitaram Yechury added that Kharge has “big responsibility”.
The book, edited by former UGC chief Sukhadeo Thorat and author Chetan Shinde, has a compilation of articles on Kharge and provides an insight into his political career that spans 50 years.
In an interview to HT, Thorat said, “This biography unveils lesser-known facets of Kharge’s persona as a political luminary, social reformer, and educator over five decades. It meticulously covers his family background, contributions to Karnataka’s economic development, and his commendable role as an opposition leader. But most unique is his role as a social reformer to reform the iniquitous caste society towards the goal of equality, freedom, and fraternity, including education for marginalized groups through the Education Society with 18 education institutions. Notably, it delves into his profound role as a social reformer, drawing inspiration from Ambedkar and Buddhist ideology for socially inclusive development.”
Get Current Updates on India News, PM Narendra Modi Live Updates along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world