Mallikarjun Kharge takes Congress reins


Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, the first Dalit president Congress has had in 50 years, takes over at a time when the party is desperate for a revival. Can he rise to the challenge?

Kaushik Deka

New Delhi,ISSUE DATE: Oct 31, 2022 | UPDATED: Oct 22, 2022 00:22 IST

New Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge after the results were declared, Oct. 19; (Photo: Hardik Chhabra)

New Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge after the results were declared, Oct. 19; (Photo: Hardik Chhabra)

Mallikarjun Kharge is a study in contrasts. Of the 13 elections he has contested, including the recently-concluded one for Congress president, he has won 12. Yet, he doesn’t have the flamboyance of a mass leader. Thanks to his “gigantic physique”—as a close relative puts it—he comes across as a serious person, but his wicked sense of humour has one in splits during conversations. Most of his political colleagues find him polite and sober but, at home, he is a disciplinarian. “Whenever he is at home, even the grandchildren are on their toes. He asks them questions about everything, from global warming to local civic issues to check their awareness levels. He’s also particular about not wasting food, water or electricity,” says Priyank Kharge, his son and a Karnataka MLA.



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