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Ten Lesser Known Facts About Mallikarjuna Kharge

Congress veteran and opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha, Mapanna Mallikarjuna Kharge, 80, is expected to be elected as the party’s next president. If Kharge wins the post, he will be the first member of the non-Nehru-Gandhi family to hold the position in 25 years, after Sitaram Kesari.

Here are 10 lesser known facts about Kharge

Origin

The Kharge family originated from Warawatti in Bhalki taluk of Bidar district, which falls in the former Hyderabad-Karnataka region, which was once ruled by the Nizams. When he was just seven years old, the Kharge family was forced to relocate to the nearby district of Kalburgi (formerly Gulbarga), after an outbreak of communal violence, during which several members of his immediate family, including his mother, lost their lives. This event is said to have shaped his views on communalism and interfaith relations, making him decidedly “secular”.

Political entry

Said to be an academically average student, Kharge has always had a taste for politics and was involved in student union political activity at the government college in Kalburgi. While studying for his law degree at Seth Shankarlal Lahoti College, Kharge worked in a movie theater to support himself, according to a veteran journalist, who is now a media adviser to a former CM from Karnataka. Kharge was active in taking on labor-related matters to help unions. He practiced under Shivaraj Patil, who eventually became a Justice of the Supreme Court of India.

Solilada Sardara (Undefeated Leader)

Of the 12 elections he contested, Kharge lost only once – in 2019. He was elected to the Karnataka assembly nine times in a row, between 1972 and 2008. Eight of the victories came from Gurmitkal constituency, when it was reserved for Scheduled Castes, and once from Chitapur. He also won the constituency of Gulbarga Lok Sabha in 2009 and 2014, earning him the nickname of Solilada Sardara.

Eternal CM pending

Despite nine consecutive Assembly wins, the Karnataka CM chair has eluded Kharge three times. Firstly in 1999 when SM Krishna propelled him to office, secondly in 2004 when his close friend Dharam Singh became the consensus candidate to lead a Congress-Janata Dal (secular) coalition, and the third time in 2013, when Siddaramiah edged him out of the race. However, he held several ministerial positions in the state government and served as the Leader of the Opposition as well as the Chairman of the KPCC.

Family life

Kharge was born to Mapanna and Saibavva and is married to Radhabai. He has three sons – Priyank, Rahul and Milind, and two daughters, Priyadarshini and Jayashree. Except for his son Priyank, who is a congressman and former minister of Karnataka, all his other children keep a low profile, as his other two sons are businessmen. Associates say her children’s names were inspired by members of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Buddhist-rationalist

He has often drawn the wrath of the Sangh-Parivar for having denounced the Sanatana Dharma. Kharge has repeatedly said he is a follower of Buddha and Ambedkar, although he accused the RSS and BJP of trying to impose the caste system. The Congress leader has insisted he should be tried for his competence and gets angry when asked if being a Dalit was a factor in his rise. The BJP pointed out that Kharge has always contested in reserved constituencies and relinquished the seat of Gurmitkal, which elected him eight times, after he was de-reserved and moved to neighboring Chittapur.

Dynasty & controversies

While only one of his five children is active in politics, Kharge is accused of fostering a new dynasty. After winning the newly reserved Chittapur seat in 2008, he passed it to Priyank, who lost it in 2008 but won the seat in the 2013 and 2018 elections. Kharge has been accused of exercising strong pressured for his son to be appointed minister in the Congress government then led by Siddaramiah.

The Congress leader is considered relatively free of controversy, except for an incident involving the illegal allocation of land to one of his daughters by a housing company, which was later returned.

Sports champion, patron of the arts and polyglot

As a youth, Kharge was an avid kabbadi, hockey, and football player, winning numerous accolades at the district level. The well-built Kharge would have been a bold raider in kabbadi matches. He retains a keen interest in these sports, apart from the national pastime of cricket.

Kharge is also said to have played a key role in helping the Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bengaluru – a performing arts center – grow and stabilize as chairman of his trust. He also fosters talent from the backward Kalyana Karnataka region of the state through his Siddarth Vihar Trust. Kharge is also a polyglot, who can speak many languages ​​including Hindi, Urdu, Kannada, Marathi, Telugu, and English, apart from a handful of other regional languages.

Beaten by his own election agent

The only time Kharge tasted defeat in the roundups was during the Modi wave of 2019, when the BJP won 25 of the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka. Kharge was beaten by his former protege Umesh Jadhav, who was his election agent and became a lawmaker but later defected to the BJP. It’s a defeat that irritates Kharge, who has repeatedly said it was a defeat for the principles and ideology he stood for, not a personal setback.

President of the Second Karnataka Congress

If he wins, Kharge would be the second president of Karnataka’s Congress party, after S Nijalingappa in the mid-1960s. Furthermore, it would mean that two leadership positions at the top echelons of the Congress party would be filled by Kannadigas. BV Srinivas already leads the Youth Congress and if Kharge wins the presidency, it would be an extra feather in the hat of the Karnataka party, which will go to the polls in the next six months.