Karnataka Election News: No Rubber Stamp, Mallikarjun Kharge Emerges Stronger as Chief | Bangalore news

From the day Siddaramaiah acolyte Zameer Ahmed’s attack on DK Shivakumar sparked fears of an implosion to Saturday, when steady campaigning and clever strategy produced a landslide, the rocking ship of Congress has been stabilized since the appointment of “local boy” Mallikarjun Kharge as party chairman last October.
The Congressional victory marks the arrival as leader of an octogenarian, a phase in which most walk into the sunset remembering what was and could have been.
Realizing the expectations from him in his home state and the stakes for the struggling Congress, Kharge’s invisible hand was behind the sudden reconciliation of factions and the smoothest ticket allocation in party history.
But to the world that expects any non-Gandhi Congress president to be a “rubber stamp,” post-Karnataka Kharge has emerged as a force multiplier as a backward-dalit-class face, a boxer orator, and, above all, even a sure obstacle against the BJP’s fire-breathing mascot Narendra Modi who prefers the Gandhis as his target.
Kharge addressed 39 rallies across the state and decided to take on Modi, entertaining people with rustic humor, always chasing their votes. The party has swept its vast backyard of Hyderabad-Karnataka region and also Mumbai-Karnataka. His role in consolidating, as far as possible, Dalit votes across sub-caste divisions is an achievement few leaders in politics can boast of.
If a face at the state level has been elevated by his casual appointment to congressional overlord, his presidency is forcing people to see the grand old party in a new light. A Dalit leader in Congress cannot meet the expectations set by Mayawati, because she, the product of a unique social movement, is one of a kind her. But insofar as there can be a radical of a softer hue, Kharge is recognized as much more than the ridiculed “token Dalit”. The shift of gaze toward Congress is best witnessed on cutthroat social media, where even radical new-age activists are taking notice.
It wasn’t so long ago… The imposing Kharge spent his life winning polls in Karnataka, earning himself the epithet of “sollilada sardara” (the unconquered), while remaining only a SC leader of a district. He watched helplessly as compromise candidate Dharam Singh and new contender Siddaramaiah became CMs. In 2009, after Siddaramaiah was pitted against opposition in the assembly, Kharge was driven out of Karnataka via the Lok Sabha route. It was 2014, when a severely mauled Congress made him the LS leader who went into his own right, locking horns with Modi, the attacks reverberating him making up for a lack of numbers. And when he lost in 2019, he accused Modi of targeting him by “deceiving” the Banjara community in his constituency with “false promises”. A Modi-led BJP in Karnataka has gotten personal to him, as he also conveyed to the PM during a recent meeting in Central Hall.
A few months ago, by chance, the quintessential Congress loyalist was hurled into the top seat of the party. “Rubberstamp”, “stop gap”, “old” were the epithets that came his way.
On Saturday, as BJP and Modi fell by the wayside, Karnataka’s findings set aside the popular derision reserved for Kharge and delivered a non-Ghandi Congress president, who has his strengths.


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