Congress president-elect Mallikarjun Kharge paid his obeisance at memorials of Mahatma Gandhi and former prime ministers Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Lalu Bahadur Shashtri, and Indira Gandhi before formally taking charge in New Delhi on Wednesday morning.
In the morning, Kharge visited Raj Ghat, Shanti Vana, Vijay Ghat, Shakti Sthal, Vir Bhoomi and Samata Sthal before heading to the Congress headquarters in the national capital.
Kharge, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, was elected as the first non-Gandhi president of the Grand Old Party in more than two decades on October 19. He had defeated former diplomat and Lok Sabha MP Shashi Tharoor in the organisational elections.
During the elections, all members of the Gandhi family refrained from campaigning or expressing their opinion on who should win. Yet, it was largely understood that Kharge was the family favourite and was destined to emerge victorious in the end.
After his win, Sonia Gandhi, in a rare move, visited Kharge’s residence along with her daughter and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to congratulate him on the victory.
A veteran Congressman from Karnataka, Kharge has a long organisational, electoral and administrative record and he belongs to the Dalit community.
A seasoned politician, the octogenarian has vowed to fight against the fascist forces, a reference to the ruling BJP and its ideological mentor RSS. He accused these organisations of attacking “every democratic institution” under the guise of communalism.
Kharge, who hails from Karnataka, also attacked the central government, saying that he believes that this country cannot be sacrificed to the whims of a dictator and that everyone has to come together and defeat these destructive forces.
Speaking to the media soon after the announcement of results last week, Kharge said: “Today, when democracy is in danger, when there is an attack on the Constitution and when all institutions are being broken, the Congress has given an example to the country by conducting elections.”
Kharge express his resolve to strengthen the Congress party and step up the ante against the Central government over the issues of inflation, unemployment, rising wealth gap, and “hatred spread by the government”.