Mallikarjun Kharge As INDIA PM Face? Mamata Banerjee Proposes, He Disposes

Mallikarjun Kharge As INDIA PM Face? Mamata Banerjee Proposes, He Disposes

New Delhi:

Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — who declared yesterday that the INDIA bloc will not take a call on its Prime Ministerial candidate until after the Lok Sabha election — took a 180-degree turn today by proposing Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s name for the position.

Sources said Ms Banerjee made the proposal at the ongoing meet of the Opposition INDIA bloc. Mr Kharge being a prominent Dalit face in the Opposition, the plan got widespread approval.  

Twelve of the participating parties, sources said, applauded the plan. Even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal — known for being mostly out-of-sync with the Congress — seconded the idea. “This is a chance to have the country’s first Dalit Prime Minister,” sources quoted him as saying.

Mr Kharge, however, poured cold water on the plan with a polite refusal, sources said. He said he only wants to work for the downtrodden.

“We have to win first, and think what to do to win. What is the point in discussing PM before having MPs. We will try to get a majority together,” Mr Kharge  later told reporters when asked about the matter.

The Opposition has faced sharp criticism from the ruling BJP for fielding candidates against Ramnath Kovind and Droupadi Murmu — members of Scheduled Castes and Tribes — during the Presidential elections. The BJP has accused the Congress and the other parties of being biased against Dalits and tribals.

The wide approval of Mr Kharge is also seen as an indication of his stature among the Opposition parties. On the other hand, it was seen as a snub to Rahul Gandhi, over whose candidature for the top post, the opposition has always been divided.  

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Mr Kharge said the contentious issue of seat sharing will be handled at the state level.

“If there is any issue, it will be taken up at Central level,” he said.

Sources said the Trinamool Congress and several other parties have decided on December 31 as the deadline for seat-sharing talks.

28 parties had taken part in today’s mega meet of the INDIA bloc, which is one of the many in the days to come. Mr Kharge said they would hold multiple meets across various cities. “Unless we do that we cannot raise people’s awareness,” Mr Kharge said.

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