New Delhi, June 3 (): Congress naming veteran Karnataka MP Mallikarjun Kharge as the leader of the party in the Lok Sabha, is to save Rahul Gandhi from leading a weak contingent that can do little against BJP’s might.
Congress sources term the choice by Sonia Gandhi as safe and pragmatic under the existing circumstances. But, critics ask whether Kharge would have been the Prime Minister, had the Congress-led alliance won the elections, hinting that Rahul was skipping the non-lucrative job.
Rahul was not keen to take up the Lok Sabha post and advisers of Sonia too had pointed out the futility of the Lok Sabha leader assignment when the Congress needed his full attention.
At first it was decided that the post should be given on the basis of seniority to Kamal Nath, who was a nine time MP in the Lok Sabha. Kamal Nath’s pro-corporate image worked against him.
Kerala and Karnataka units of Congress pitched for a South-based MP for the post. Kharge’s Dalit background too worked in his favour and also that it would blunt the argument of dynasty politics in Congress and boosting poll prospects in Karnataka.
Since 1972, Kharge has won all assembly polls in Karnataka. It was in the last LS polss that he became MP and was made railways minister after Bansal stepped down due to an appointment scam.
Sources say Kharge cannot add much to Congress and that inter-party opposition to Kamal Nath paved the way for him. Congress also wants to project a pro-poor, non-corporate and a Dalit leader.
Some feel that Rahul not taking the post will be a blunder like him not joining UPA ministry. During the campaign the question was that Rahul was never involved in decision-making of UPA and if he was becoming pro-active. Rahul’s supporters say that Congress needs him for rebuilding and instilling confidence in workers.