Mallikarjun Kharge, the Leader of the Congress in the 16th Lok Sabha, is one of the Congress's most prominent leaders in the south. The 76-year-old leader is yet to see an electoral defeat in his decades-long career, but is facing defeat in the Gulbarga constituency.
Mallikarjun Kharge won from Gurmitkal assembly constituency in Karnataka nine times in a row before he plunged into the Lok Sabha poll arena in 2009. He won from Karnataka's Gulbarga in the national election. When the tide was against the Congress in 2014, he was among the few leaders of the party who won, that too with a massive margin. The Congress dropped to its lowest tally since independence, making his job of leading the party's offensive in parliament very challenging.
Mapanna Mallikarjun Kharge, appointed the leader of Congress party in the Lok Sabha after the party failed to win enough seats to qualify for the post of Leader of Opposition, is a hardcore loyalist of the Gandhi family.
A prominent Dalit face from the Congress, Mr Kharge was a minister in Manmohan Singh's cabinet. He was the Minister of Labour and Employment from 2009 to 2013. He was appointed Minister of Railways in 2013.
He led the Congress in many debates in parliament. He repeatedly refused to attend meetings of the Lokpal selection committee, insisting that the leader of the single largest opposition party be conferred the status of a full-fledged member.
He made headlines when he objected to 1983-batch officer Rishi Kumar Shukla's appointment as CBI director citing the officer's lack of experience in anti-corruption investigations. Mr Kharge even sent a two-page dissent note to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Mr Kharge enjoys a clean image.
Mr Kharge is defending his Gulbarga seat against Umesh Jadhav, a former Congress lawmaker who switched to the BJP before polls.
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