Kharge as Congress chief has to gear up to meet BJP challenge

Despite many allegations of lack of transparency and impropriety, the Congress organisational election has tossed the ball right into the BJP’s court.

Published: 20th October 2022 06:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th October 2022 06:33 AM   |  A+A-

Congress party's new president Mallikarjun Kharge. (Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS)

Newly elected Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge flashes the victory sign at a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday | Parveen Negi

The election of veteran Dalit leader Mallikarjun Kharge as the first Congress president from outside the Gandhi family in the last twenty-four years may not immediately work wonders for the party itself. Still, it would present multiple challenges to the BJP.

The first thing it would do would be to rob Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP of their pet political barb against the Congress that it is a family-controlled party interested solely in preserving and promoting the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Second, and more crucially, the election showcases the Congress as a party having more internal democracy, which did not shy away from holding a free and fair election to choose its president.

Despite many allegations of lack of transparency and impropriety, the Congress organisational election has tossed the ball right into the BJP’s court. The BJP is yet to hold internal elections. Rahul Gandhi has already thrown down the gauntlet by asking the BJP when it would choose its president through elections. Kharge’s Dalit identity is also going to make it difficult for the BJP to go after him as it has been going after the Gandhi family.

The new Congress president is sure to impact the forthcoming elections, especially in his home state, Karnataka, which has a large Dalit population of around 20 per cent. The Congress leadership may deny it ad nauseam, but Kharge has been chosen for his caste identity and was backed by the leadership against rival Shashi Tharoor.

The choice of Kharge is a political move by Congress to counter the BJP’s decision to elect a tribal as the President of India. The Congress organisational election has already brought the party back into the limelight. The new president’s next moves will continue to generate media interest and give the party much-needed publicity.

The party will now hold the plenary session, where it will elect the new Congress Working Committee, the highest decision-making body. The organisational elections and Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra have undoubtedly injected life into the moribund organisation. India’s grand old party seems to be finally getting its act together after facing its worst electoral drubbing by the BJP.

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