“First we need to win polls”, says Kharge on INDIA bloc’s PM choice


PTI, Apr 17, 2024, 8:25 AM IST

Image source: PTI / File

Bengaluru: Accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of seeking to divide the country on the lines of caste, religion, creed, Congress President M Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday called him the “real Sultan of tukde tukde gang.”

Modi was already charting programmes for next five years calling all secretaries, he alleged, claiming that, “this kind of over-confidence and arrogance is not good for the country and democracy.”

“First we need to win the elections”, Kharge said, as he asserted that who will be INDIA bloc’s Prime Ministerial face is a matter to be settled only after the results of the Lok Sabha polls are declared.

“The real Sultan of the Tukde Tukde gang is Modi. He is dividing a country on the lines of caste, religion, creed. We strongly believe that every region and part is India, be it Kashmir, north-east. We have fought for these regions. We have fought for the freedom of this country. What has the BJP done?” Kharge said in an interview to PTI Videos.

Questioning whether anyone from the RSS or BJP fought for this country, he said, “we (Congress) have sacrificed our lives for freedom. He (Modi) comes and claims that he has done everything. He behaves as though (he) is the Sultan of India. What is your contribution to unite the country? The Nehru family went to jail. Show me one person from the BJP or RSS who sacrificed anything for the freedom of this country.”

Addressing an NDA rally in Mysuru, Modi on Sunday called Congress “the sultan of tukde tukde gang”, as he accused the opposition party of having the dangerous intention to “divide, break and weaken” the country.

Reacting to Modi’s claims about NDA winning over 400 seats in the Lok Sabha polls, Kharge said, “Luckily, he has not said ‘ab ki baar 600 par’. This egoistic propaganda, undermining the opposition and portraying that everything is me is unfortunate.”

“Even leaders who have the confidence about coming to power will not speak like this,” he added.

Claiming that in 2004, there was a similar situation when BJP portrayed that India was shining and that Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the most suitable prime minister, the AICC chief said, “What happened then? Congress-led government was formed under Manmohan Singh. He (Singh) emerged as a better prime minister. We saw the economy booming. Lot of policies and programmes were formed at the time and he was a better administrator.”

“You should not undermine Indian democracy. The Indian voter is very clever. He (Modi) is trying to suppress everyone. If a level playing field is given, you will see the repeat of 2004 results,” he added.

Stating that in a coalition, consensus is drawn through discussions and deliberations, Kharge said the INDIA alliance will discuss as to who is the suitable person to lead it once the results are out.

“…who will be the prime minister — that will be a matter to be settled only after the results. First we need to win the elections and then depending on what the alliance partner says there (will be) discussions. Congress party has never been shy about (it), first, we need to win elections,” he added.

Pointing out that he has said that he will not be contesting the Lok Sabha elections, Kharge said, “my seat in Kalaburgi (Gulbarga) has already been taken.”

Kharge’s son-in-law Radhakrishna Doddamani is contesting as the Congress candidate from Gulbarga (Kalaburagi) Lok Sabha seat, from where Kharge successfully contested in 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The veteran leader had in 2019 lost the seat to BJP’s Umesh Jadhav.

Regarding Congress candidates for Nehru-Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Raebareli, he said elections there will be held in the later stages and “so still there is time.”

“Let us see what will happen. We will tell at an appropriate time. It is not good to open my cards. In politics, it is important to have some surprises. We will discuss, we will deliberate and we will take feedback. There is a democratic process in the Congress party and in the due course we will take a call. It is not like BPP where Modi has the final say for everything,” he said.

Alleging the BJP benefited majorly from the electoral bonds scheme, Kharge said one should always provide a level playing field.

“But in this scheme, there was no transparency. BJP has used all agencies to threaten business houses and establishments and extracted money. They have also favoured some businessmen and taken money from them. ‘Chanda do dhanda lo’…how can you claim it is clean when you are arm-twisting and taking money?” he said.

“These companies were corrupt in the Congress government, TRS government, TMC government and then when they came to BJP they are clean is it?” he questioned and said in the same way leaders who were corrupt while in other political parties, became clean when they joined BJP, and some of them were made chief ministers, union ministers and Rajya Sabha members.

Claiming that Modi is destroying all institutions, Kharge said, “You know what is happening in all the universities across India. He (Modi) has filled up all the universities with people from RSS. He has hired people from the Sangh on contract basis and he is slowly converting them into permanent posts.”

“He is a puppet in the hands of RSS and is anti-Dalit. He didn’t allow Murmu (President Droupadi Murmu) the first citizen of this country to do puja in Ram Mandir, he didn’t allow her in the Parliament too, and he didn’t allow Ramnath Kovind (former President) to lay the foundation stone (for new parliament),” he said.

Expressing confidence about defeating BJP by stating that whatever number needed to defeat the BJP, Congress and its alliance partners will get, Kharge said after Congress won Assembly elections in Karnataka, Telangana and Himachal Pradesh things are looking “positive and good.”

“Our guarantee schemes have proved that people want programmes and schemes that have benefits like reduction in prices. These have caught the eye of the voter,” he said.

The Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka also termed former PM and JD(S) patriarch H D Deve Gowda joining hands with BJP at the age of 91 as “unfortunate.”

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