He might be 80-year-old but Congress president-elect Mallikarjun Kharge gave a glimpse that age is just a number and he had more fights left him.
On Wednesday, hours after he was elected the Grand Old Party’s first non-Gandhi president in more than two decades, the veteran politician was an epitome of humility as he vowed to fight against the fascist forces who are attacking every democratic institution under the guise of communalism.
Octogenarian 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 at his residence after victory in the party’s presidential election, which took place for the sixth time in the 137-year history of the party, he said, “Since 75 years of independence, Congress has always strengthened democracy and saved the Constitution. 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.”
He thanked all the delegates for completing the election exercise successfully and also congratulated Tharoor for contesting the elections. Kharge said, “After the results were declared, Tharoor also came and met me, and we discussed how to take the party forward.”
Praising outgoing Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Kharge, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, said, “I thank Sonia Gandhi. Soniaji has taken the party to new heights with her blood and sweat for 23 years by making personal sacrifices.”
“Under the leadership of Sonia Gandhi, we not only formed governments at the centre twice but also revived the Congress and formed governments in many states. Her tenure will be remembered in history,” Kharge said.
In a rare move, Sonia Gandhi, along with her daughter and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, also arrived at 10 Rajaji Marg, the residence of Kharge and congratulated him.
Taking a potshot at the central government, Kharge said that today the biggest problems in the country are inflation, severe unemployment, the gap between the rich and the poor and the hatred spread by the government in the country.
Talking about the party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi, Kharge said, “Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has embarked on a 3,570 km journey from Kanyakumari to Kashmir to create a mass movement against these problems in the country.”
“Today the whole country is joining in his struggle. I appeal to the Congressmen and the people of the country to join the Bharat Jodo Yatra and walk shoulder to shoulder with Rahul Gandhi in the interest of the country,” he appealed.
Kharge also pointed out that everyone has to work together as party workers and that no one is big or small here.
“All are equal. We have to fight together against the attack on the Constitution of the country and the conspiracy to end the democracy of the country. We have to fight the fascist forces, who are attacking every democratic institution under the guise of communalism,” Kharge said in an indirect attack on the central government.
Kharge also asserted that he will work to strengthen the organisation and combat these challenges as well.
Slamming the central government, the Congress leader said, “Those sitting in power in Delhi talk a lot, but do nothing. Their character can be described in four words – Khokhla chana, baje ghana.”
Kharge also said that the party believes that this country cannot be “sacrificed to the whims of a dictator”. “We have to come together and defeat these destructive forces,” he said.
He also stressed that the party workers should fight from Parliament to the street. “Every member of the organisation has to fight vigorously till the booth level. I am sure that as you have reposed your trust in me, and made a person born into a poor family the president of the Congress, I will live up to your trust,” Kharge added.