Know about the New Congress President

Know about the New Congress President

Mapanna Mallikarjun Kharge (born July 21, 1942) is the current Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha from Karnataka since February 16, 2021. He was the Leader of the Opposition of Rajya Sabha from February 16, 2021 to October 01, 2022. He was the Minister of Railways and Minister of Labour and Employment in the Government of India. Kharge Ji is a member of the Indian National Congress (INC) political party and was a Member of Parliament for Gulbarga, Karnataka during 2009-2019.

He is a senior Karnataka politician and was the Leader of Opposition in the Karnataka Legislative Assembly. He was the President of Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee during the 2008 Karnataka State Assembly Elections.

He has won elections for a record 10 consecutive times having won the Assembly elections for an unprecedented 9 consecutive times (1972, 1978, 1983, 1985, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2008, 2009) and lost in the 2019 elections. Shri Mallikarjun Kharge was the leader of the Congress Party in Lok Sabha during 2014-2019.

Early life and Background

Shri Mallikarjun Kharge was born in the Varawatti, Bhalki Taluk, Bidar district, Karnataka to Mapanna Kharge and Sabavva. He completed his schooling from Nutan Vidyalaya in Gulbarga and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Government College, Gulbarga and his law degree from the Seth Shankarlal Lahoti Law College in Gulbarga. He started his legal practice as a junior in Justice Shivraj Patil’s office and fought cases for labour unions early in his legal career.

Personal life

Shri Kharge married Radhabai on May 13, 1968 and has two daughters and three sons.

Political career

Shri Mallikarjun Kharge started his political career as a student union leader while in the Government College, Gulbarga when he was elected as the General Secretary of the students’ body. In 1969, he became the legal advisor to the MSK Mills Employees’ Union. He was also an influential labour union leader of Samyukta Majdoor Sangha and led many agitations fighting for the rights of labourers. In 1969, he joined the Indian National Congress and became President of the Gulbarga City Congress Committee.

He first contested the Karnataka State Assembly elections in 1972 and won from Gurmitkal constituency. In 1973, he was appointed the Chairman of the Octroi Abolition Committee which went into the question of revitalising the economy of the municipal and civic bodies in the state of Karnataka. Based on its report, the then Devaraj Urs government abolished the levy of octroi at multiple points. In 1974, he was appointed the Chairman of state-owned Leather Development Corporation and worked to improve the living conditions of thousands of cobblers who indulged in the leather tanning industry. Work sheds-cum-residences were built across the state for their benefit during this time. In 1976, he was appointed the Minister of State for Primary Education, during which time, over 16,000 backlog vacancies of SC/STs teachers were filled up by recruiting them directly into the service. Grants under grant-in-aid code were given to schools run by SC/ST managements for the first time.

In 1978, he was elected for the second time as MLA from Gurmitkal constituency and was appointed Minister of State for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj in the Devaraj Urs ministry. In 1980, he became the Minister for Revenue in the Gundu Rao Cabinet. During this time, the focus was on effective land reforms, resulting in giving occupancy rights to millions of land-less tillers and labourers. More than 400 land tribunals were constituted to expedite the transfer of land rights to the tillers. In 1983, he was elected for the third time to the Karnataka Assembly from Gurmitkal. In 1985, he was elected for the fourth time to the Karnataka Assembly from Gurmitkal and was appointed the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly. In 1989, he was elected for the fifth time to the Karnataka Assembly from Gurmitkal. In 1990, he joined Bangarappa’s Cabinet as the Minister for Revenue, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj, portfolios he had held earlier and brought about significant change. Restarting the Land Reforms process that had stopped in the interim, resulted in hundreds of thousands of acres of land being registered in the name of the landless tillers.

Between 1992 and 1994, he was the Minister for Co-operation, Medium and Large Industries in the Veerappa Moily Cabinet. In 1994, he was elected for the sixth time to the Karnataka Assembly from Gurmitkal and became the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly. In 1999, he was elected for the seventh time to the Karnataka Assembly and was a front-runner to the post of Chief Minister of Karnataka. He became Minister for Home in the S. M. Krishna Cabinet during a particularly trying time for Karnataka especially the Rajkumar kidnap by the notorious poacher Veerappan and the Cauvery Riots. In 2004, he was elected for the eighth consecutive time to the Karnataka Assembly and was once again considered a front-runner to the post of the Chief Minister of Karnataka. He became the Minister for Transport and Water Resources in the Dharam Singh-led coalition government.

In 2005, he was appointed the President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. In the Panchayat elections held soon after, Congress won the largest number of seats compared to BJP and JD(S) indicating a revival of the Congress fortunes in the rural areas of Karnataka. In 2008, he was elected for the record ninth consecutive time to the Assembly from Chitapur. He was appointed the Leader of the Opposition for the second time in 2008. In 2009, Shri Kharge contested the General Elections from Gulbarga Parliamentary Constituency and won his tenth consecutive election.

National Politics

In the 2014 General Elections, Shri Kharge contested and won from the Gulbarga parliamentary seat, beating his closest rival from the BJP by over 13,404 votes. In June, he was appointed the Leader of the Congress party in the Lok Sabha. Kharge contested the 2019 General Elections against Umesh. G. Jadhav, a BJP candidate, in Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency of Karnataka. Shri Mallikarjun Kharge lost by a margin of 95,452 votes.

On June 12, 2020, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge was elected (unopposed) to the Rajya Sabha from Karnataka, at the age of 78 years. On February 12, 2021, Shri Kharge was appointed Leader of Opposition, Rajya Sabha. On October 01, 2022, he resigned to the post of LoP for contesting Presidential post of Indian National Congress.