#CongressWoes : M Mallikarjun Kharge’s Lack of Assertiveness Puts Party In Dire Straits

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Congress president Mapanna Mallikarjun Kharge it seems has missed out an golden opportunity to assert himself as party president . By declining to attend the Pran Pratishtha of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya he has given the BJP the ammunition to target him as remote- controlled president .

By attending Kharge could have sent a message that he has come out of the shadow of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. But he chose not to so. Terming the event as BJP , RSS and Modi centric event is fine . But when the national mood was in Ram Temple favour the Congress looked the other way thus missing the connect with e public . Moreover, the presence of seasoned Kharge at the event , Leader of the Opposition in Rajya Sabha since 2021 an member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha from Karnataka since 2020 would have doused the angst against the Congress.

When Mallikarjun Kharge became the Congress president beating Shashi Tharoor, winning 7,897 of the valid votes (84.14 per cent) of the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) delegates to Tharoor’s  impressive  1,072 (11.4 per cent a creditable one ).  By electing Kharge an old guard and 10 Janpath loyalist the Congress missed the bus to give the party  a breath of fresh air. Shashi Tharoor’s elevation could have changed people’s outlook towards the Congress  given his phenomenal popularity ( an acclaimed author and  a suave former UN diplomat)  and his youth connect and party would have  generated interested among the elite , the and urban  middle class . The  same way  the late BJP leader  and stalwart Arun Jaitley swung the  party’s perception among the middle class and the elite despite been in the era of Vajpayee and Advani. But sadly Congress did not  see this scenario and went ahead with Kharge. A case of missed opportunity yet again !

Kharge’s innings  as president  began with a flyer – Congress winning the  Karnataka assembly poll in 2023 the very state where Kharge hails from  . But soon the wheels came off – Assembly poll routs in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh , Madhya Pradesh , Mizoram with only Telangana as solace has dented this presidency gung-ho.

Kharge could not control the bitter feud between then Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Sachin Pilot and the party paid the heavy price losing power. In Chhattisgarh too Kharge tried to pacify senior leader TS Singh Deo in his clash with CM Bhupesh Baghel very late by naming his Deputy CM. But that was too late . The narrative of discord within was known to all. This damage control was no use . In Madhya Pradesh Kharge failed to read the undercurrent against former CM and party president Kamal Nath. And the party lost it again.

In the run- up to the Lok Sabha polls 2014, Congress is already under back-foot with allies not willing to give Congress the seats it desires . West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Has already announced her party’s move to Contest polls in West Bengal alone ( TMC blaming Congress leader in Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury for the alliance break) , AAP too has hinted the same in Punjab. In Bihar , Maharashtra , Uttar Pradesh too, Congress seat sharing strategy has hit road- block. This delay due to Congress arrogance now threatens to damage the INDIA alliance and give the BJP led NDA a inevitable third term without any challenge.

The task is cut-out for 81 – year-old Kharge in the days ahead .  How he manages to hold INDIA alliance and his party together (with another young leader Milind Deora quitting ) with only Sachin Pilot and Gaurav Gogoi among the young faces left remains to be seen. Kharge could have made the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra led by Rahul Gandhi as an INDIA alliance yatra . That could have further strengthened the INDIA alliance rather than the yatra it seems is now increasingly becoming a Rahul Gandhi show .

That Kharge seems to go and follow  Rahul Gandhi’s idea even after becoming president means has not been able assert himself as party president. And this is hurting the grand old party big time . How much ?  well the Lok Sabha polls 2024 will have all the answers .


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