Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Kharge’s selection perfect

Having commented that the Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi did not keep her word to remain neutral in the contest for the post of party president and let Shashi Tharoor down, it has to be acknowledged that the ultimate choice she made was absolutely correct. A die-hard loyalist, Mallikharjun Kharge, leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha,  is a Dalit and a Buddhist from a very important State for the party, Karnataka, which is slated to go for elections next year.

Also read: Mallikarjun Kharge, Sonia’s choice, files nomination papers

Although Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor and Jarkhand’s Tiwari are in the field, the election of Kharge, who has Sonia’s blessings, is a foregone conclusion. While filing his nomination papers on Friday, Kharge was flanked by Digivijay Singh and Ashok Gehlot, two senior leaders and loyalists of the family. Even though Madhusudan Mistry, the AICC election officer, said madam would be strictly neutral and nobody can claim to have her support, the very fact that Kharge was contacted on Thursday evening by Venugopal and asked to file his papers is enough proof, if it is needed at all, to say that Kharge is Sonia Gandhi’s choice.

Also read: Gehlot settles for CM’s post, battle between Digvijay, Tharoor  

Although minorities would have preferred Digvijay Singh, he has become too controversial with his utterances that caused problems for the party. Kharge is non-controversial and astute who has an opportunity to get the seniors back into the mainstream. Those who were not happy with Rahul’s style of functioning will not have any problem in dealing with Kharge. As President Draupadi Murmu is a symbol of Adivasis, Kharge is the symbol of Dalits.  In a large country such as India, symbolism is very important. Mahatma Gandhi used it at Dandi in making salt by defying the Raj to a great effect in order to revive the freedom movement which was passing through an uninspiring phase.

Also read: Digvijay Singh’s remarks on TRS hurt Congress in  Telangana

Congress party would be revived only when it gets back its traditional voters such as Dalits, Minorities and Brahmins (who matter in UP, Uttarakhand and some other States in the Hindi belt). In States like UP and Bihar the party is nowhere in the reckoning because these sections deserted it and moved over to regional parties or the BJP. As none of the regional parties could be an alternative to the BJP (While Congress was polled 19 percent, the third largest party Trinamool Congress was polled four percent in 2019), the traditional voters, the majority of whom did not go to the BJP, would do well to return to the Grand Old Party  at least while voting in Lok Sabha polls. This would be possible if all the regional parties opposed to the BJP get together and fight along with the Congress. Leaders such as Mamata Banerjee, Akhilesh Yadav and K Chandrasekhar Rao will have to decide if they wish to help the BJP by splitting the anti-BJP vote or fall in line with the only feasible alternative alliance. The Congress on its part should be willing to give the driver’s seat, as RJD’s Tejashwi Yadav put it, to the strong regional parties in the respective States where it does not have a major say. Kharge has the stature to discuss these issues with opposition leaders like Laloo Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar. When both the stalwarts of Bihar politics met Sonia Gandhi recently she told them that the new Congress president would meet them soon to take the discussion forward.

Also read: Gehlot, Tharoor to fight for Congress’ top job

Congress has to consolidate its position in South India for which Kharge would be an asset. Gandhis are and will be a predominant force in the Congress as well as in the country. They cannot be wished away. Their presence and influence would only help the Congress to stay united. The need of the hour is not a confrontation with the Gandhis but working with them in order to rejuvenate the party. The new, non-Gandhi, Congress president should enjoy complete confidence of the Gandhi family. Kharge would fit in this role very well. The selection of Kharge is a proof to show that Sonia Gandhi, though unwell, did not lose her ability to take appropriate decisions.  

Also read: Dropping NTR’s name unwarranted, unwise  

K. Ramachandra Murthy
K. Ramachandra Murthy
Founder & Editor

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