When former union minister Mallikarjun Kharge was designated as leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, some within the opposition and even his own party smirked, dismissing him as a lightweight.
But the 72-year-old’s comments in parliament today were appreciated across parties.
Responding to BJP general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy’s jibe about the numerical handicap suffered by the Congress in the new Lok Sabha -the party has just 44 MPs- Mr. Kharge said, “We may be 44 in Lok Sabha, but the Pandavas will never be intimidated by a hundred Kauravas.”
Mr. Kharge’s reference to the epic Mahabharata – and his positioning of the Congress as the five Pandava brothers who fought evil – drew an unusually enthusiastic response from his party president Sonia Gandhi, who smiled as she thumped her desk in approval.
One of the most prominent Dalit faces of the Congress, Mr. Kharge retained the Gulbarga Lok Sabha seat in Karnataka.
In his 45-minute speech, Mr. Kharge said the BJP should not be “arrogant” over its massive victory in the national election -the party has won 282 seats.
He said the BJP should deliver as “only announcements will not work”.