- India’s opposition Congress party elected a former minister on 19th October, 2022 as its first president in 24 years not from the Gandhi dynasty, in an effort to reverse its electoral decline amid the rise of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
- Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, was appointed by members over fellow politician Shashi Tharoor, a former under-secretary general for communications and public information at the United Nations, to replace Sonia Gandhi as president of the once-dominant party that won India’s independence from British rule 75 years ago.
- He is also the first Dalit, people known as “untouchables” under India’s discriminatory caste system, to lead the party.
- Congress governed India for decades after independence from Britain in 1947. The Gandhi family descended from the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
- Mallikarjun Kharge, a veteran politician, was born five years before independence and is widely believed to have the backing of both Sonia and Rahul.
- He now faces the mammoth challenge of winning the next national election, due in 2024, and three state elections next year.
- That includes in his home state of Karnataka, where he personally has won 11 of the dozen elections he has contested during his long career in the Congress party.