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Meet Mallikarjun Kharge, The Dalit Leader Who Became Congress President In Historic Win

Mallikarjun Karge, who is expected to take oath as the party chief on October 25, was seen as the 'establishment candidate' to have been chosen by the Gandhi family. He is often called 'solilada sardara', a warrior who knows no defeat. 

Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge
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Mallikarjun Kharge became the first non-Gandhi senior leader to hold the Presidential post of the Congress in the last 24 years. Kharge got 90 per cent of the votes cast on October 17. While the President's vote count stands at 7897, Tharoor got 1082 votes. 

The 80-year-old veteran leader from Karnataka has become the second Dalit leader to lead the decade-old Congress party. 

Karge, who is expected to take oath as the party chief on October 25, was seen as the “establishment candidate” to have been chosen by the Gandhi family. He is often called 'solilada sardara', a warrior who knows no defeat. 

Born on July 12, 1949, Mapanna Mallikarjun Kharge was born in Bidar, Karnataka. He studied law at the Seth Shankarlal Lahoti College in Gulbarga where as a junior he won many labour union cases. Later on, he went on to become a labour leader at the Centre. 

Kharge joined Congress way back in 1969 and since then he has held an array of portfolios across different profiles. He became the President of the Gulbarga City Congress Committee in 1969.

He also served as the Minister of Railways and the Minister of Labour and Empowerment under the Manmohan Singh Government. 

He has been a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha from Karnataka since February 16, 2021. From then to October 1, 2022, he also was the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament. 

He first contested the Karnataka State Assembly Elections in 1972 and won from the 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.

In 1976 he became the Minister of State for Primary Education. Under his leadership, over 16,000 backlogs of SC/ST teachers’ vacancies were cleared. 

In 1978, he became the MLA from the Gurmitkal Constituency for the second time. In the same year, he served as the Minister of State for Rural Development and Panchayat Raj in the Devaraj Urs ministry. He was re-elected as an MLA from the same constituency several times later. 

 In 1980, he became the Minister for Revenue in the Gundu Rao Cabinet. In 1985, he was appointed the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Karnataka Assembly.

 In 1990, he joined Bangarappa’s Cabinet as the Minister for Revenue, Rural Development and Panchayat Raj and between 1992 and 1994 he was the Minister for Co-operation, Medium and Large Industries in the Veerapa Moily Cabinet. 

In 2005, he was appointed the President of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee. 

He has held several other portfolios under different cabinets and ministers all his life. His rise to the position of the Congress chief as a Dalit leader is being viewed as a strong political move ahead of the Karnataka Assembly Elections in May 2023. 

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