Monday, Aug 14, 2023

Kharge sends BJP poll message, tears into PM Modi: ‘He insulted Chhattisgarh’

Congress president steps up attack on Modi at an event in Janjgir-Champa, which is the constituency of state Leader of Opposition Narayan Chandel; predicts three seats for BJP in Assembly polls

mallikarjun kharge, political pulse, indian expressCongress president Mallikarjun Kharge. (File)
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Kharge sends BJP poll message, tears into PM Modi: ‘He insulted Chhattisgarh’
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Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday sent BJP a message for the state elections scheduled in Chhattisgarh later this year, hitting out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP and listing the Bhupesh Baghel-led state government’s achievements. Kharge, who was speaking at an event in Janjgir Champa district, said the prime minister had insulted the people of Chhattisgarh by comparing the violence in Manipur to the law-and-order situation in the state.

Predicting a landslide victory for the Congress in the Assembly polls and a mere three seats for the BJP, Kharge appealed to the people of Chhattisgarh to vote for his party in next year’s general elections as well. The BJP won nine of the state’s 11 parliamentary seats in 2019, a year after the Assembly polls.

“Bhupesh and his ministers have kept their promise. All sectors of people have got something from the government. The state is doing better than others. Even BJP supporters here are saying the Congress will win the state, so I am concentrating on the Lok Sabha elections. They (BJP) are now deploying the ED (Enforcement Directorate), IT (Income Tax Department), and CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) in Chhattisgarh just to threaten or frustrate the ministers and the CM. But the Congress members are not afraid,” Kharge said.

Targeting Modi over a series of issues, including the Manipur violence, the Congress president said, “After our victory in Chhattisgarh (in 2018), we tried our best in Himachal and Karnataka. It was your blessings with which we won both states. This power is because of the people of Chhattisgarh and we will take it forward in other states too. We need Chattisgarh Congress to help us in 2024.”

On Manipur, Kharge said, “So many people have died, or are injured and displaced in Manipur and lakhs are going hungry there. We wanted PM Modi to open his mouth but he did not. Rahul ji went and met the people in Manipur. Modi ji says he is the representative of 140 crore people, but he kept mum on Manipur. PM Modi insulted the people of Chhattisgarh by comparing the violence in Manipur to the state. Was the PM correct in comparing Manipur to Chhattisgarh? The PM is responsible for what is happening in Manipur. Here you (Modi) are going to states like Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, or going around the world like to Egypt, but not to Manipur. He is only worried about how to win elections hence he is going to every state. He only makes a show that he loves the public. You (Modi) love someone and marry someone else. He is married to the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh). This is how our PM is.”

Kharge compared the work done by the Gandhi family to Modi’s track record. “They say they have made schools. But Modi ji and Shah ji (Union Home Minister Amit Shah) studied in government schools made by us (Congress). Did they learn in foreign schools? We provided schools; you studied in those schools and became chief minister and prime minister. Now you make fun of us. They compare themselves with Pandit Nehru and Vallabhbhai Patel.”

The Congress chief went on to say, “You became CM without contesting elections. He first became a CM then an MLA. He does a lot of drama. He must join a drama company and not Parliament. What did you do for the country? You divided the country and the society. Give an account of your work.”


Kharge listed the achievements of Congress governments in Chhattisgarh and the Centre before Modi arrived as a politician. He spoke of the Bhilai Steel Plant, of making Chhattisgarh a “dhaan ka katora (bowl of rice)”. He said, “We brought the AIIMS, engineering and medical colleges and many textile factories before Modi. We gave people jobs. You (Modi) are taking away jobs. Nehru ji made the public sector and gave them jobs. You are selling public departments to private people. You sold airports, highways, ports and everything is being sold. The things we made are being sold by the BJP. Then they ask us what have we done.”

The Congress leader added, “We used to import wheat from the US. Sonia Gandhi brought the Food Security Act and started the work of giving rice at subsidised rates. Every family now gets a minimum of 35 kg of rice. It’s important to fill the stomach of the poor but they want to build bungalows and live in them instead.”

On the nepotism allegations made by PM Modi and the BJP, Kharge referred to the “sacrifices and achievements” of the Gandhi family and said they were here to serve people. There were multiple examples of nepotism within the BJP, he added.

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“Indira Gandhi broke Pakistan into two and liberated Bangladesh. You cannot even kill a rat or a crow. We fought Pakistan and liberated Bangladesh. We had one lakh prisoners of war and let them go. Apart from Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, who else became a Chief Minister or a Prime Minister or even a minister from the Gandhi family? They just want to serve the country and unite the country. Rahul ji walked from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. They say nepotism. The BJP has a lot of nepotism but they do not see this. They just see Rahul and Sonia Gandhi who never fought for power. They are defaming the Congress. We all know what they did to Mahatma Gandhi.”

The Congress president made the comments at the “Bharose Ka Sammelan (Conclave of Trust)”, an event organised by the Baghel government. The choice of Janjgir-Champa is significant as it is the Assembly constituency of Leader of the Opposition Narayan Chandel of the BJP. It was one of the 14 seats that the BJP managed to win in 2018 amid the Congress wave.

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Responding to Kharge’s comments, Chandel told The Indian Express, “Khargej i’s sabha has failed. People left while he was speaking and seats were empty. Also, why do they feel the need of doing ‘bharose ka sammelan’? Has the Congress lost the trust in the chief minister? Congress workers have lost trust in their MLAs and MLAs have lost trust in the ministers. Ministers and Deputy Chief Minister have lost trust in Bhupesh Baghel, and the people have lost trust in the Congress. Hence this meeting. The trust is moving towards the BJP. We will win the Assembly elections with a majority, and the 2024 Lok Sabha elections too, as the public trusts Modi ji. Kharge ji needs to find his ground first. The Congress doesn’t even have enough seats to have the Leader of the Opposition role. So why is Kharge ji making such big statements? Their alliance, INDIA, is where every party leader wants to become the groom (PM candidate). This is a mismatched alliance. In the past, the public has had bad experiences with such alliances.”

First published on: 13-08-2023 at 20:24 IST
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