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Mallikarjun Kharge: Some Lesser Known Facts About the 98th Congress Speaker

The Indian National Congress on Wednesday elected Mallikarjun Kharge as its 98th president. Kharge defeated fellow senior MP for Thiruvananthapuram Shashi Tharoor in the CCP elections held on October 17. The party chose a non-Gandhi leader after more than two decades.

Out of a total of 9,385 votes, Kharge received 7,897 votes, while Tharoor received 1,072 votes. No less than 416 votes were invalid. Interim President Sonia Gandhi met Kharge after the result and congratulated him on his election victory. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also sent his well wishes to Kharge.

Here are some interesting facts about the new president of Congress:

1. Kharge is the second President of the Dalit Congress in five decades since Jagjivan Ram became party leader in 1970.

2. He was born on July 21, 1942 in the Bidar district of Karnataka and studied in a public Marathi language school.

3. Kharge is a polyglot and fluent in Urdu, Hindi, Marathi, Kannada and English.

4. The former Union Minister of Railways is a practicing Buddhist and is a self-proclaimed ardent disciple of Bhim Rao Ambedkar.

5. The former Rajya Sabha MP lost his mother to communal violence aged seven. The loss affected him deeply, which later shaped his adult ideology as a secularist.

6. He joined the grand-old party in 1969 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was expelled from the party. At age 27, he became chairman of the Kalaburagi city congress committee.

7. Kharge was a state level kabaddi and hockey player. He also played football and cricket. Until a few years ago, he was often seen at different stadiums catching up on the last match.

8. Kharge is an arts graduate from Government College, Kalaburagi. He also holds a law degree from Seth Shankarlal Lahoti Law College. He practiced under Shivaraj Patil as an expert in labor law, who later became a Supreme Court judge.

9. He is also known as ‘Solilada Sardara’, which translates to Undefeated Leader. He received this title after being elected to the Karnataka Assembly nine times in a row between 1972 and 2008. The former MP also won Kalaburagi Lok Sabha constituency in 2009 and 2014.

10. Kharge and his wife Radhabhai have three sons and two daughters — Rahul, Priyank, Milind, Jayashree and Priyadarshini. Aside from Congressman Priyank, his other children are not involved in politics.

11. According to a Livemint report, Kharge is an extremely witty person in a private space. His sarcasm and sense of humor are said to leave everyone in two. However, he is also a disciplinarian who dislikes wasting food, electricity, and water.

12. He doesn’t follow any specific exercise regime except post-knee surgery physical therapy in 2017. Yet, at 80, the 98th Congress president is more agile than most of his compatriots.