Mamata refrained from explicitly mentioning Kharge but alluded to the prospect of a ‘Dalit PM’ candidate, according to a Congress leader.

Mallikarjun Kharge rejected the suggestion of being the prime ministerial candidate for the INDIA bloc, emphasizing that the priority should be on defeating the BJP.

The fourth assembly of the opposition coalition in India delved into the matter of selecting a prime ministerial candidate. Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee and Aam Aadmi Party convener Arvind Kejriwal expressed their support for Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge as the potential Prime Ministerial face for the Indian National Democratic Inclusive Alliance in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections, challenging PM Modi.

Despite the endorsement, Kharge declined the proposal, emphasizing the need to concentrate on winning the elections. Congress leader PJ Joseph clarified that Mamata did not explicitly mention Kharge’s name; rather, she subtly suggested that it would be beneficial for the alliance to project a ‘Dalit PM.’

She did not explicitly propose that. While expressing her views, Mamata Banerjee mentioned that it could be beneficial to project a Dalit Prime Minister, without specifying any particular individual. The topic wasn’t extensively deliberated upon because she spoke towards the end of the discussion,” stated the Congress leader in an interview with news agency ANI.

The Congress party refrained from issuing an official statement on this suggestion. During the subsequent press conference following the meeting, Kharge remarked that discussing the potential Prime Ministerial candidate at this stage was futile. He emphasized the importance of focusing on winning elections collectively and increasing the party’s strength.

Kharge asserted, “First and foremost, our priority is to secure victories. We should concentrate on strategies for success. The selection of the Prime Minister will be addressed later. It is impractical to discuss the Prime Ministerial candidate when our parliamentary numbers are uncertain. Our initial goal is to enhance our representation and work towards achieving a majority.’

Insiders revealed that Kharge dismissed the suggestion, emphasizing his commitment to non-caste politics and the equality principles he has championed throughout his political career. Known for his dedication to serving the underprivileged, Kharge has consistently avoided portraying himself as a leader based on caste distinctions.

The proposal of Kharge as the prime ministerial candidate for the bloc faced resistance from JD(U) and RJD. Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav exited the meeting prematurely, choosing not to participate in the subsequent press conference.

During the 4th meeting of the INDIA bloc, it was decided that discussions on seat-sharing would no longer be deferred, and there would be a resolution on seat allocation in various states by the year’s end.

Simultaneously, the UP Congress called upon Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and Kharge to consider contesting the 2024 Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pradesh. Highlighting the state’s political significance and the historical strength of Rae Bareli and Amethi as party strongholds, UP Congress president Ajay Rai emphasized the personal connection the Gandhi family shares with the constituents in these regions.

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