on Monday filed his nomination as the party's candidate for the June 19
Rajya Sabha polls
The former Union minister filed his nomination in the presence of KPCC president
D K Shivakumar
, the leader of opposition Siddaramaiah and other senior party leaders at the office of legislative assembly secretary M K Vishalakshi, who is the returning officer for the polls.
Ahead of filing of nomination, the Congress Legislature Party meeting was held under the leadership of Siddaramaiah, after which Shivakumar issued "B-form" to Kharge.
The Congress high command on June 5 had announced Kharge as the party's candidate for the Rajya Sabha polls.
Election is scheduled on June 19 to fill four Rajya Sabha seats from Karnataka represented by Rajeev Gowda and B K Hariprasad of the Congress, Prabhakar Kore of the BJP and D Kupendra Reddy of the JD(S) that will fall vacant on June 25, with their retirement.
June 9 is the last date for filing nominations.
Congress with 68 MLAs in the assembly can win one of the four seats easily on its own, so Kharge's victory is said to be certain.
Speaking to reporters after filing nomination, Kharge thanked Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and party state leadership for choosing him as the candidate and said, he will honestly try to fulfill their expectations.
He said, "I appeal to all legislators to support me, if elections are held."
This will be the first stint in Rajya Sabha for Kharge, who has always got elected directly by the people in his political career spanning over four decades.
The leader, earlier popularly known as "solillada Saradara", (a leader without defeat), faced his first electoral loss in his political life against BJP's Umesh Jadhav in Gulbarga by a margin of 95,452 votes during the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
A nine-time MLA and two-term Lok Sabha member, he had served as Congress floor leader in the previous Lok Sabha, and also as Union railway and labour minister during the UPA government.
Kharge, who is 77-year-old, has also served as minister during several Congress governments in the state, and as KPCC president and leader of opposition in the Karnataka assembly in the past.
His son, Priyank Kharge, is currently MLA representing Chittapur constituency, and had served as minister during the previous Congress and coalition governments.
Terming Kharge as a leader of national stature, State Congress Chief Shivakumar said "there was pressure on us from various opposition parties in the country including our party national leaders to field him as the candidate.
Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi without any second thought cleared his name and it has satisfied all our karyakartas."
His (Kharge) experience is unmatched ... we are hopeful that he will continue to be the voice of the people," he said, adding that the CLP has passed a resolution thanking central leadership for choosing Kharge.
CLP leader Siddaramaiah said Kharge with his vast experience has all the abilities to effectively represent the party and the state in Rajya Sabha and face the BJP.
JD(S) patriarch and former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda is the JD(S) candidate.
The regional party that has 34 seats in the assembly is not in a position to win a seat in Rajya Sabha on its own, and will need the support from the Congress with its surplus votes.
A minimum 45 votes are required for candidates to win.
The BJP with 117 members in the assembly (including Speaker), can ensure easy victory in two seats.
The BJP's central leadership on Monday sprang a surprise by fielding Eranna Kadadi and Ashok Gasti as its candidates for the Rajya Sabha election ignoring the recommendations of the state BJP unit.