Edited By: Pathikrit Sen Gupta
Last Updated: March 02, 2023, 00:20 IST
In Raipur, the Congress president significantly seemed to send out an olive branch to the TMC as well, when he said a UPA-type alliance of 2004 must be formed. (File pic/News18)
In a U-turn, he piped down the Congress dream of having a prime minister of its own, in case it wins in 2024
Mallikarjun Kharge as Congress president faces the same challenge Sonia Gandhi did in 2004: to stitch together a united opposition to take on the monolith BJP, then under Atal Bihari Vajpayee. What seemed initially an impossible task was made possible by Sonia who was determined to unseat the Bharatiya Janata Party.
But getting allies on board was not easy. It was difficult to kill her hurt and anger with the DMK that she accused of not being serious about punishing those who were responsible for the assassination of her husband. But she realised that defeating the BJP was a bigger goal and she reached out to M Karunanidhi who ended up becoming her biggest fan.
On a cold New Year’s Eve, Sonia Gandhi took many by surprise, including the shrewd Ram Vilas Paswan, by walking down from her home to his. Similar was her outreach to an angry Mamata Banerjee and others as well. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) was born and she ensured two terms.
Today, it’s up to Kharge to weave a similar united front. But the times have changed. There are many anti-Congress and anti-BJP players like the Trinamool Congress (TMC), Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), and Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) who are unwilling to accept the grand old party as a leader. While Jairam Ramesh made it clear that an opposition front cannot be successful if the Congress does not lead it, Kharge is more practical.
In a U-turn, he piped down the Congress dream of having a prime minister of its own, in case it wins in 2024. “We are not naming a PM candidate. We are not telling who will lead. We want to fight together,” said Kharge.
Not just this. In Raipur, the Congress president significantly seemed to send out an olive branch to the TMC as well, when he said a UPA-type alliance of 2004 must be formed. This alliance had included the Trinamool. Kharge was softening the tone just days after both Rahul Gandhi and the Congress had accused the TMC of helping the BJP.
It was upon Kharge’s insistence that Jairam Ramesh issued a statement, condemning the use of ED and CBI to target opposition leaders. This was an oblique reference to the Aam Aadmi Party, while the Delhi state unit continues to attack AAP.
The shrewd veteran and practical Kharge knows the art of making friends. And the first rule is to keep everyone close to you. He is aware that the Congress can only lead if it has the numbers. But why agitate and upset potential allies? After all, the first task is to defeat the BJP. And Kharge’s expertise could come in handy. With his conciliatory style, he ticks the right boxes.
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