Mallikarjun Kharge is Wednesday set to take charge as the first non-Gandhi president of the Indian National Congress in nearly two and a half decades. Kharge secured the top post defeating party MP Shashi Tharoor by a huge margin at the presidential election held last week. He will be replacing senior leader Sonia Gandhi as the Congress chief.
On Wednesday morning, Kharge visited Rajghat in Delhi to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. Chairman of the Congress Central Election Authority, Madhusudan Mistry, will formally hand over the election certificate to Kharge at an event later in the day. Congress leaders Rahul and Sonia Gandhi are expected to attend the event. Rahul is on a three-day break from his Bharat Jodo Yatra from October 24 to 26 and is expected to arrive in Delhi.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who had bowed out of the presidential race, said today marked a “new beginning”. “Till the last minute, efforts were made to make Rahul Gandhi the party president as only he can challenge (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and the government. Today is a new beginning. We congratulate Mallikarjun Kharge ji and will work to strengthen the party,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Ahead of the event, the president-elect visited the residence of former prime minister Manmohan Singh to spend some time with him. According to news agency PTI, Kharge’s security personnel and workers made last-minute arrangements in the Congress president’s office and on the AICC headquarters lawns.
Kharge’s appointment comes with its fair share of challenges. The veteran leader must transform the party to reconnect with the people and start winning elections again. As many as 11 states will go to polls before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and the biggest test before Kharge will be to power the party to victory in at least the major states.
He has also repeatedly said that party’s Udaipur Declaration is his main agenda. It has to be seen how far he manages to make the party implement resolutions such as enforcing a “one person, one post” rule, bringing in young faces (those under 50 years) into leadership positions, fixing accountability, the “one family, one-ticket” rule, and limiting the years a person can occupy a position to five years.