Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who previously stated that the INDIA bloc would defer the decision on its Prime Ministerial candidate until after the Lok Sabha election, made a surprising reversal today by suggesting Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s name for the position.
In the ongoing Opposition INDIA bloc meeting, Ms. Banerjee put forward the proposal, receiving widespread approval due to Mr. Kharge’s prominent status as a Dalit leader in the Opposition. Reports indicate that twelve participating parties applauded the plan, with even Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, often at odds with the Congress, endorsing the idea, citing it as an opportunity for the country’s first Dalit Prime Minister.
Mr. Kharge, however, declined the proposition, expressing his focus on working 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,” he stated when asked about the matter.
The Opposition, criticized by the ruling BJP for fielding candidates against Scheduled Castes and Tribes members during Presidential elections, faces allegations of bias against Dalits and tribals. The approval of Mr. Kharge is viewed as a testament to his stature among the Opposition parties and, conversely, a snub to Rahul Gandhi, whose candidature for the top post has consistently divided the opposition.
Discussing the meeting outcomes, Mr. Kharge mentioned that the contentious issue of seat-sharing would be addressed at the state level. “If there is any issue, it will be taken up at the Central level,” he added. Sources indicate that the Trinamool Congress and other parties have set December 31 as the deadline for seat-sharing talks.
The mega meet of the INDIA bloc, involving 28 parties, is part of a series of upcoming gatherings. Mr. Kharge emphasized the necessity of multiple meets across various cities to raise people’s awareness. “Unless we do that, we cannot raise people’s awareness,” he asserted.