The All India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi on Friday approved the nomination of former Kalaburagi MP Mallikarjun Kharge for a Rajya Sabha seat.
There were multiple aspirants from the Congress in Karnataka for the biennial election for Rajya Sabha, which is slated to be held on June 19. However, the party picked Mallikarjun Kharge due to his seniority and experience as a Member of Parliament.
Kharge is the General Secretary in charge of Maharashtra, where the party has formed a coalition government with the Shiv Sena.
Kharge is a prominent Dalit leader from Karnataka. A nine-time MLA from Chittapur segment in Gulbarga and a two-time MP from Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency, 76-year-old Mallikarjun Kharge had remained undefeated in every election he had contested in prior to 2019.
He had lost the Lok Sabha elections in 2019 to Dr Umesh Jadav, who had at the time defected from Congress to BJP.
Kharge had been severely disadvantaged in Gulbarga in 2019 after several Congress heavyweights including Mallikayya Guttedar, the MLA from Afzalpur and a leader of the Ediga community, and Baburao Chinchasur MLA of the Gurmitkal segment and a leader of the Koli community joined the BJP ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections in 2018. Soon after these defections, Umesh Jadav, former MLA of Chincholi too deserted the Congress. He joined the BJP soon after he tendered his resignation.
While campaigning for the Lok Sabha elections too, Kharge had repeatedly stressed that the 2019 polls would be the last one he would contest. Sources in the Congress told TNM that Kharge had lobbied for the Rajya Sabha seat as he did not want to be involved in the state politics. Former MPs BK Hariprasad and Rajeev Gowda, were also lobbying for the post.
“Kharge suffered a lot of injustice in Congress as Siddaramaiah had always checked Kharge’s growth in the state politics. Even when Umesh Jadav and other Congress leaders had defected to BJP, the state’s leaders, who were at the time close to Siddaramaiah, had placed the blame for their defections on Kharge’s shoulders. Now that Siddaramaiah’s influence has waned, many in the party have aligned themselves with different leaders,” the Congress source said.