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Priyank Kharge was among the most visible faces of the Siddaramaiah government

Priyank Kharge, a diploma holder in animation with exposure to the West and fluent in Kannada, English, Urdu and Hindi, comes across as a promising young leader.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: May 02, 2018, 03.07 PM IST
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Priyank Kharge

Until he took over in mid-2016, the department of IT & BT was just an appendage of the Industries department, run largely by its secretary. What's more, there was not much happening there policy-wise. A first-time MLA (from Chittapur in Gulbarga district), Kharge was named Minister of State in charge of IT & Tourism. In less that two years, he took so many initiatives in the IT and Startup space that they began making national headlines. The young minister -- he is 40 now -- even pursued Apple Inc., and did his best to see that Bengaluru got the iPhone assembly unit. No wonder, in just about a year, Kharge was elevated to Cabinet rank. Under his watch, the department of IT, BT & Science & Technology transformed into the department of Technology & Innovation in sync with changing times.

There is a historical reason behind Siddaramaiah inducting him into his ministry. The young politician is the son of Congress floor leader in the Lok Sabha, Mallikarjun Kharge. The senior Kharge was, in the 1990s, projected as the future CM of Karnataka. The Dalit leader, a heavyweight from Gulbarga, always missed the bus, sparking off the impression that the Congress will not choose a Dalit as the CM. By making his son a minister, the Congress was trying to comfort Dalits, not to mention the senior Kharge himself.

Priyank Kharge, a diploma holder in animation with exposure to the West and fluent in Kannada, English, Urdu and Hindi, comes across as a promising young leader in the Congress from the backward region of Hyderabad-Karnataka.

Kharge’s stint as Minister was marked by a string of initiatives including hackathons, startup challenges and fundings, sewing up collaborations between industries and colleges, and skilling the youth. As Tourism minister, he got Bengaluru its first brand identity, similar to what many other cities in the world have. With all focus on his work, he has allowed no room for controversy.
Kharge is seeking re-election from Chittapur, the constituency where he tasted defeat in his first attempt in 2008. If he wins this time, and continues to win from here, he is sure to cement his position as a formidable leader from the Hyderabad-Karnataka region. He still has a long road ahead. However, many already see in him qualities a future Chief Minister might require.
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