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Congress gets a new leader

The new president of Indian National Congress, Mallikarjun Kharge (file photo)

Mallikarjun Kharge, a veteran leader from Karnataka, has been elected as the new head of the 137-year-old Indian National Congress party. After 24 years, a person who is not a member of the 'Gandhi' family has become the head of the Congress. He is entrusted with the no easy task of getting the party back to the corridors of power and recapturing ties and reviving the last of the hopes. The new leader of the party has to build strong alliances by coordinating different political branches. He certainly has the full support of the Nehru descendants to take up and face this formidable task. The large majority of votes he received in the presidential election confirms that he has the support of other state leaders. The fact that he got this position through the electoral process also gives him the credibility and confidence to get things done without overly depending on others. In that sense, Kharge and Congress should thank Dr Shashi Tharoor for the new beginning.

After Chetoor Sankaran Nair, a Keralite's intense efforts to become the stalwart of the Congress failed. But it was Shashi Tharoor's entry into the scene and diplomatic statements that made the Congress presidential election the centre of attention. His actions also drew attention to the election inside and outside the party. In addition, Tharoor's candidature enabled Congress to boast that it has the best internal election process and to cheerfully challenge parties if they have such a process. Tharoor's tact, declarations about the reversal of precedents, and diplomatic political approaches, not only kept him from falling into an internal tussle but also showcased the quintessential leader in him. Because of this, young party workers are celebrating Tharoor on social media along with Kharge's victory. If Kharge and Congress measure up to understanding and utilising the potential of this development, it will undoubtedly be a sharp tool against the Modi government.

There is no doubt that tough challenges await Mallikarjun Kharge. For the Congress, ever since its birth on December 28, 1885, internal elections are not uncommon. There have been elections for the post of president from its early years of existence and during the golden era when the Congress was governing India in all its glory. The Congress has a history of defeating the nominees of Gandhi and Nehru and having to vacate the office of president after even incurring the wrath of the ruling Nehru family. But unlike all those times, this internal election is the last straw of survival for Congress. With Sonia Gandhi ailing and Rahul and Priyanka refusing to take the lead due to repeated defeats and internal conflicts, navigating the acute internal crises in the organisation and rebuilding it is a mountainous task of Himalayan proportions. If infighting for power is not prevented, leaders and ranks will wither away further. It is another Herculean task to win back the trust of the people by demonstrating the courage to confront the Sangh Parivar, which uses power, organisational strength and threats to buy up and silence the media and communities.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra and the presidential election have given Congress a new creative energy. Congress has an innate ability to represent the diversity of the country as it was formed during the independence struggle upon which modern India was built. While there are many things to reproach the party for, including the Emergency, Congress' commitment to democracy and cultural diversity still holds up the country's pillars of secularism and democracy. Congress should be able to develop political ideas that can embrace cultural diversity and support oppressed communities to counter racist HIndutva attacks. There is a historical poetic justice in the fact that Kharge, who grew up from the grassroots and experienced the pain of constant loss of power despite all his qualifications, has at the age of 80 taken up the task of giving life to a democratic society . May Kharge be able to create a new awakening in Congress and India by imbibing all of them.

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TAGS:Congress Congress president Congress presidential election Shashi Tharoor Kharge 
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