Kharge’s top priority is implementation of Udaipur declaration: Gourav Vallabh

The Udaipur declaration suggested radical changes in the Congress, including adopting the “One person, one post” and “50 under 50” policies

Congress president-elect Mallikarjun Kharge (File photo)
Congress president-elect Mallikarjun Kharge (File photo)


In what is being seen as the victory of ‘continuity’ over ‘change’, Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge (80) defeated Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor (66) with a huge margin in the high-octane elections for the post of the Congress president.   

After the result was announced on Wednesday afternoon, it became evident that Kharge, who received 7,897 votes, was the unanimous choice of the party’s cadre.  

Tharoor, who had alleged that the “system is with Kharge” during the campaign, managed to get only 1,072 votes. 416 votes were declared invalid after the counting.  

Political observers wondered what Kharge, the first non-Gandhi president of the Congress party in 24 years and the 18th since independence, will do after taking the charge.  

 “The priority is to implement the Udaipur declaration. Because that was made by the senior leaders, subject matter experts and the party’s cadre just four months back. Then he will try to revamp the organisation, the AICC and the pradesh committees,” said Congress spokesperson Gourav Vallabh, who handled Kharge’s election campaign.  

Calling Kharge “a man who believes in collective leadership”, Vallabh, while speaking to National Herald, added, “He does not make comments like ‘I will do this; I will do that’. He believes in what we all are going to do for our country, for our party”.  

The Udaipur declaration, adopted after the three-day Chintan Shivir held in May this year, suggested radical changes in the Congress, including adopting the “One person, one post” and “50 under 50” policies, which the party decided to implement. 

“He is saying again and again…'50 under 50' formula which means 50 percent reservation for the people under the age of 50 in the party and the organisation will be implemented,” said Vallabh.  

Asked on who influenced Kharge the most, Vallabh replied, “He is deeply influenced by Dr Ambedkar’s ideology.”  

“Also, Indira Gandhi inspired him a lot. He is also influenced by the sacrifices made by Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. While he was in his 20s and 30s, he campaigned for the 10-point agenda of Indira Gandhi,” he said.  

The 10-point agenda released by Indira Gandhi included nationalisation of PSBs and insurance companies, land reforms and abolition of privy purses etc.  

It is worth noting here that Kharge, who was born into a Dalit family, has never tried to project or establish himself as a Dalit leader. He, along with his family members, followed the path of Buddhism.  

A senior journalist from Karnataka who has seen Kharge’s journey from close quarters recalled, “He says I am a Congress leader, not a Dalit leader.”  

Highlighting Kharge’s five decades-experience in active politics, Vallabh shared an anecdote. “When Article 371 (J) was inserted in the Constitution which gave special rights to 8-9 districts in Hyderabad-Karnataka region, he spent lot of time debating the Article 371 (J) with his colleagues and his friend,” he said. 

A Congress veteran who has won the Assembly polls 9 times, Lok Sabha elections two times and was nominated to Rajya Sabha once, Kharge spends his leisure time reading Ambedkar literature.  

He is a hard-core constitutionalist.  

Very few know that Kharge is fond of India’s national game, hockey.  

“He used to play hockey in his 20s and 30s. Now he watches hockey matches on TV,” Vallabh revealed. 

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