Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee — who declared 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 by proposing Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge’s name for the position.
Sources said Banerjee made the proposal at the ongoing meet of the Opposition INDIA bloc.
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.
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,” 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.