Home india-news Mallikarjun Kharge makes way for son-in-law on home turf, unlikely to contest Lok Sabha polls | Latest News India

Mallikarjun Kharge makes way for son-in-law on home turf, unlikely to contest Lok Sabha polls | Latest News India

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Mallikarjun Kharge makes way for son-in-law on home turf, unlikely to contest Lok Sabha polls | Latest News India

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Amid firm indications that Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge is unlikely to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, the party on Thursday fielded his son-in-law, Radhakrishna Doddamani, from his home turf of Gulbarga.

Mallikarjun Kharge (HT File)
Mallikarjun Kharge (HT File)

The octogenarian won the Lok Sabha polls from the Gulbarga (Kalaburagi) segment in 2009 and 2014, but lost the electoral contest in 2019.

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“Kharge’s hands are full. In addition to managing party affairs at the national level, he has to coordinate with the INDIA bloc partners. Also, his term in the Rajya Sabha is not yet over,” a senior Congress leader said.

The Congress president’s son, Priyank Kharge, who represents the Chittapur Assembly constituency in Gulbarga and is a minister in the Karnataka government, was not interested to throw his hat in the ring either and hence, Doddamani emerged as the natural choice, according to party sources.

The sources said the Congress president took the final call in the matter.

Doddamani is a businessman who also manages educational institutions. He was said to be initially reluctant to enter the poll fray, but finally gave in.

Born in Kalaburagi, Doddamani has maintained a low profile. He has always worked actively behind the scenes in managing and strategising Kharge’s successive electoral campaigns.

He is said to be popular among the Congress workers and supporters, especially in the Gurmitkal Assembly segment, which Kharge represented consecutively between 1972 and 2004.

Kharge was defeated by the BJP’s Umesh Jadhav by a margin of 95,452 votes in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Popularly known as “Solillada Saradara (a leader who hasn’t faced a defeat)”, that was the first electoral loss in Kharge’s political life spanning several decades.

Ahead of the 2019 polls, Jadhav had quit as a Congress MLA and joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to contest the Lok Sabha election from Gulbarga.

The 2019 election was considered a tough one for Kharge, a nine-time former MLA and two-term former Lok Sabha member, as several senior Congress leaders like Baburao Chinchansur, A B Malaka Reddy and Malikayya Guttedar from the region had quit the party and joined the BJP.

These leaders, along with Jadhav, who had quit the Congress as they were upset over the “dominance” of Kharge and his son (who was then a minister in the Congress-JD-S coalition government in Karnataka) in the region, found a common ground and aggressively campaigned against the father-son duo.

Kharge, who was earlier the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, had served as the Union minister for labour and employment as also for railways and social justice and empowerment in the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

He had also held various portfolios in successive Congress governments that governed the southern state and was the president of the Karnataka Congress and leader of opposition in the state Assembly.

Gulbarga for long had been a bastion of the Congress. Before 2019, the party had lost its hold over the constituency only in the 1996 and 1998 Lok Sabha polls, when the Janata Dal and the BJP won the seat respectively.

Gulbarga has eight Assembly seats of which the Congress currently holds six. The BJP and the JD(S) hold one seat each.

The BJP has again fielded Jadhav from the constituency in the upcoming general election.


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