Emotional moment for me… Labour’s son took over as Congress President: Mallikarjun Kharge

Mallikarjun Kharge took charge as the first non-Gandhi president of the Indian National Congress in nearly two-and-a-half decades. Kharge claimed the top post in the presidential election held last week by considerably defeating party MP Shashi Tharoor.

Addressing the party workers as chief for the first time, Kharge said, “It is an emotional moment for me as the son of a labourer, a common Congress worker has taken over as the chief of the Congress party. For this honour. I thank you all.”

“I started this journey in 1969 as a block committee chief; today, you have taken it to such heights. It is a matter of privilege and pride for me to carry forward the legacy of Congress, a party guided by people like Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru,” Kharge said.

“As President, it will be my utmost duty to look after our workers. Together we will build an enlightened, empowered and equal India for every citizen. We will uphold the Constitution of this country, respect the rights of all and give equal opportunities, defeat the haters and fight inflation, unemployment and hunger,” the party president said.

Speaking about the upcoming elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, Kharge said people want change in these states. “We have to show the strength of our party in these elections. If we all do hard work and dedication, we will succeed. We are the soldiers of Mahatma Gandhi; we are not afraid of anyone. Even the most significant states will be defeated when a Congress worker is freed from fear.

Referring to the party’s Udaipur manifesto, he said that the proposal to give 50 per cent of posts in the party to those below 50 years of age would be implemented.

Congress Central Election Authority President Madhusudan Mistry handed over the election certificate to Kharge in the presence of Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi. Rahul is on a three-day break from his India pair tour from October 24 to 26.

Less than an hour after Kharge took charge, all members of the Congress Working Committee and AICC general secretaries and in-charges submitted their resignations to the party president.

Ahead of the program on Wednesday morning, Kharge visited Delhi’s Raj Ghat to pay tribute to Mahatma Gandhi. He also met former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his residence.

RajKharge’shief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who had dropped out of the presidential race, said it is a “fresh start” today. “Till the last minute, efforts were made to make Rahul Gandhi the party president as only he (Prime Minister Narendra) can challenge Modi and the government. Today is a new beginning. We congratulate Mallikarjun Kharge Ji and will work to strengthen the party.”

Kharge’s appointment comes with its fair share of challenges. To reconnect with the people, the veteran leader should change the party and start winning elections again. Elections will be held in 11 states before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, and the most significant test charge will be for the party to win at least the actual state.

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