If Kharge is the chosen one, he will be first dalit CM

Opportunity beckons Gulbarga to have its man in the saddle third time

If Kharge is the chosen one, he will be first dalit CM

The Gulbarga region has thrown up two Congress chief ministers in the past — Veerendra Patil for two terms (in the 1960s and the late 1980s) and Dharam Singh, who headed the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) coalition government.  

Another opportunity is knocking on the doors of the region, with Union Labour and Employment Minister Mallikarjun Kharge being in the race to take the mantle this time.

The party’s rank and file feel that Kharge is one of the seniormost leaders in the Congress. He has been a minister right from the government of Devaraj Urs till that of Dharam Singh. He has been the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly twice and has been at the helm of the organisation in the State. If Kharge becomes chief minister, he will be the first from the community to do so.

In the 57 years since the unification of Karnataka, the Congress has not given a chance to a dalit to become chief minister, although the party has given that opportunity to all other communities - Lingayats, Vokkaligas, Brahmins and backward classes.

No challenger

With the KPCC president G Parameshwara losing the election, there is no challenger to Kharge among the dalits. His main challenger in the Congress, at present, is outgoing Leader of the Opposition, Siddaramaiah, a powerful backward classes leader, but an ‘outsider’ in the Congress.

Kharge, on his part, has been playing his cards close to his chest.

“I am a disciplined soldier of the party. Whatever responsibility is entrusted to me by the high command, I accept it,” said Kharge.

His supporters point out that in the event of the high command choosing Kharge as the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader, he has a ready constituency to contest a byelection from. His son Priyank Kharge has to make a bit of a sacrifice by resigning from Chittapur for the cause of his father.

‘Arrogant’

Kharge’s critics, who accuse him of being arrogant, point out that the high command, these days, cannot take the risk of imposing its nominee on the Congress Legislature Party  and may give freedom to the new legislators to choose their leader.

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