How was 'invincible' leader's downfall plotted

Congress leader in the outgoing Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge suffered a humiliating defeat for the first time in his 50-year political career, against turncoat and BJP candidate Dr Umesh Jadhav in Gulbarga (SC) seat.

Kharge remained undefeatable in 11 elections he contested earlier. He won eight times as MLA from Gurmitkal and one time from Chittapur Assembly segment. After Gulbarga Lok Sabha constituency became reserved for the Scheduled Caste in delimitation, Kharge contested for the first time for parliament in 2009 and won against former minister Revu Naik Belamagi (BJP) by a margin of about 13,000 votes.

Kharge’s victory margin increased to around 70,000 in the 2014 Lok Sabha election as he played a pivotal role in granting Article 371(j) of Constitution of India to Hyderabad Karnataka. Kharge had been winning the Assembly election since 1972 from Gurmitkal and worked as a minister in many departments.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had told Kharge in Parliament during a debate “you (Kharge) will not be in Parliament next time”. At a time when Congress failed to get the post of the leader of the Opposition after the 2014 election, the Congress made Kharge its leader in the House. Making the best use of the opportunity, the senior leader used to put the Modi government in a tight spot.

The state BJP leadership worked actively at the ground level in the constituency six months before the announcement of the election this time. The BJP lured Chincholi Congress MLA Dr Umesh Jadhav to the party and fielded him against Kharge.

During the campaign attended by AICC president Rahul Gandhi, Kharge had directly charged that an attempt was being made from New Delhi to the lanes of Kalaburagi to defeat him.

Several district Congress leaders were miffed with the arrogant attitude of Social Welfare Minister Priyank Kharge. They were said to be sidelined by Priyank. Congress MLAs of the district were peeved at being denied ministerial berth in the coalition government. They could not digest the sudden rise of Priyank in politics after he was made a minister.

Former ministers Malikayya Guttedar and Baburao Chinchansur quit the Congress, as they were denied ministerial berth in the previous Siddaramaiah government. They joined the BJP and decided to teach a lesson to Kharge for promoting his son in the district. Former minister A B Malakareddy also joined this group during the Lok Sabha polls.

Friends-turned-foes worked out strategies to defeat Kharge in the polls. The consolidation of votes of Lingayat, Banjara and other communities ensured the drubbing of Kharge.

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