Mallikarjun Kharge formally takes over the reins of Congress

Mallikarjun Kharge formally takes over the reins of Congress

Mallikarjun Kharge is the first non-Gandhi to take over the reins of the Congress party after 24 years.

Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday formally took charge as the new Congress president nearly a week after his win against rival contestant Shashi Tharoor in the recently held Congress Presidential Elections. Congress top brass including Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi among other bigwigs of the grand old party attended the ceremony at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters in Delhi where Kharge was handed over the certificate of election to the top post. Mallikarjun Kharge is the first non-Gandhi to take over the reins of the Congress party after 24 years.

Kharge was handed over the certificate of election as the Congress president by the party's central election authority chairman Madhusudan Mistry. Mistry said he hopes other parties will draw a lesson from the Congress and hold polls for party presidency by secret ballot.

With a significant leadership change, sought by the many dissenters in the party, the Congress is eyeing resolving several big challenges, including the infighting, that it has faced in the recent past. Apart from the infighting, the 80-year-old leader will also have to tackle the 'BJP Challenge' in the upcoming Assembly elections in several states.

With Great Power Comes Greater Responsibility:

With his elevation to the party's top post, Mallikarjun Kharge became the first Congress chief from outside the Gandhi family in the last 24 years, 22 years of Sonia Gandhi and 2 years of Rahul Gandhi. However, despite being elected in an election, Kharge faces the rubberstamp charges, which means that he has been handpicked by the Congress top brass to work for them.

Mallikarjun Kharge, at the time of his election to the top post, billed consensus and consultation as his strategy to lead the party. Kharge's first challenge, among many others, is the upcoming Himachal Pradesh elections where the Congress is hoping to register a win, given the pendulum trend of the hill state where voters elect a different government every five years.

However, the challenge is not an easy one as the double-engine government has ruled out the anti-incumbency factor and with regular visits from the bigwigs of the BJP including PM Modi has even cemented their position in the hill state. Himachal Pradesh will vote on November 12 while the results of the assembly elections will be declared on December 8.

Kharge's 2022 challenge doesn't end here as the Gujarat assembly election is also expected to take place later this year. However, the exact dates for the polls are still awaited. In Gujarat, the Congress is out of power for the last 27 years and given the growing presence of the Aam Aadmi Party in the state, it will be a herculean task for the grand old party to bounce back to the throne.

Mallikarjun Kharge formally takes over the reins of Congress
Mallikarjun Kharge elected new Congress president

Mission 2023 before mission 2024:

Next year holds an even bigger challenge for the Congress and Mallikarjun Kharge as the year will witness nine assembly elections including Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, the only two states where Congress is in power. Retaining the governments in both states and winning other states will be equally tough for the party amid the blistering accusations by the BJP. The recent political turmoil in Rajasthan has also posed some serious questions on the leadership where the party is accused of sidelining the young guards, which has triggered infighting.

Kharge, barring the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, has never lost an election in his life since he entered electoral politics in 1969. He is currently the leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha and has also served as leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, besides having been a key player in Karnataka since the 1970s.

Kharge also has to face the challenge of Congress' diminishing popularity among the opposition circle with many of them wanting a Congress-Mukt opposition and wanting to challenge the Modi-led BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. However, senior opposition leaders have backed the grand old party but want a larger share if the 'united opposition' comes to power in 2024.

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