Shri Mallikarjun Kharge is best suited to lead the Congress Party in this historic battle for India’s soul: Smt. Sonia Gandhi

Extracts of the speech of Smt. Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, Congress Parliamentary Party at the book launch function in honour of Shri Mallikarjun Kharge at Jawahar Bhawan, New Delhi on November 29, 2023.

Shri Mallikarjun Kharge Ji, Shri Sitaram Yechury Ji, Shri T.R. Baalu Ji, Professor Manoj Jha, Professor SukhadeoThorat, Shri Chetan Shinde, Smt. RadhabaiKharge Ji, friends, and colleagues, ladies and gentlemen!

Fifty years is a long period in politics. Shri Mallikarjun Kharge didn’t just survive its unpredictable course, he continued to rise higher and higher throughout his political career. Not once did Kharge Ji compromise on his ideology, not once did he drift away from the cause of the poor, not once did he compromise on dignity and conduct to win political battles.

That’s why, today, Kharge Ji stands tall as the President of the Indian National Congress. His illustrious life and work exemplifies the values that the founders and architects of modern India espoused. Embodying the indomitable Indian spirit, he has overcome multiple adversities in his long journey.

Leading by example, he symbolises the belief that no matter who you are or where you come from, you can rise to ever greater heights in the service of the nation. That is, and will continue to be an inspiration to millions of Indians drawn to be in public service.

When India became independent, as you all know, we were one of the poorest nations in the world. Literacy was 16%. Over 80% were poor, and we had almost no industrial base to speak of. But we grew collectively, marching shoulder-to-shoulder, under the leadership of the Congress Party, overcoming massive obstacles. That was because of the Party’s long experience in the freedom struggle, its sacrifice, its ideology and its indomitable spirit.

This was the Party which has shaped Kharge Ji. Faced with communalism and discrimination at a tender age, he consciously chose to be secular and liberal. Faced with poverty and discrimination, he courageously embraced compassion towards all beings.

This is what drove him, consciously, to choose to work for the public good, to empower the weakest and most vulnerable sections of our society, and to free them from the shackles & hurdles he himself had known closely at first hand.

Kharge Ji has served with distinction in every responsibility he has shouldered- at the block, district, state and national level. And in all of these, he has always placed the Party organisation above his personal interest. No matter how high or low the status of his colleagues, Kharge Ji is always consensual and collaborative. To me personally, Kharge Ji has been a wise companion and a pillar of strength. He has shared many of my burdens with stoic courage, unwavering kindness and a sharp wit.

Today, he helms the Congress Party at a crucial juncture. Those in power, unhinged from constitutional and institutional values, are subverting or demolishing all those institutions, systems and principles by which India has thrived since our Independence. As a strong organisational leader who enjoys our confidence, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge is best suited to lead the Congress Party in this historic battle for India’s soul. In this, he has my steadfast support and that of the Congress Party. Thank You! Jai Hind!