Kalaburagi: With the list of leaders arraigned against him getting longer day by day, the going is getting tougher for veteran Congress Leader Mallikarjun Kharge, who is fighting his third election to the Lok Sabha from the Kalaburagi reserved seat. The latest leader to join this legion is senior Congress leader Dr A.B. Maalakaraddi.
Dr Maalakaraddi's joining of the BJP comes close on the heels of the defection of former Ministers Malikayya Guttedar, Baburao Chinchansur and Vaijanath Patil and two-term MLA from Chincholi Dr Umesh Jadhav to the saffron party. What is significant is that all these leaders have quit the Congress with the single agenda of "teaching Mr Kharge a lesson" for his "divisive politics" for the sake of building the career of his son Priyank.
Dr Maalakaraddi, who is known as a suave and intellectualpolitician, was elected five times to the Assembly from the Yadagir Assembly constituency (1989, 1994, 1999, 2008 and 2013) and one time to the Upper House from the Graduate Teachers constituency in 1978. He was a professor in Hyderabad Karnataka Education Society's MR Medical College in Kalaburagi and was supported by Kharge and late Mr Dharam Singh during his initial years in Yadgir to counter the influence of late Vishwnath Reddy Mudnal.
It is notable that although Dr Maalakaraddi belongs to the powerful Reddy Lingayat community, he did not make a conscious effort to become a leader of his own Reddy community. Instead he became an adviser, guide and philosopher for all communities mainly Muslims and Kabbaligas who are in significant numbers in his constituency and who longed for a moderate leader who would no harm to them.