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


Mallikarjun Kharge

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge during a press conference for the release of the party’s manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections, in New Delhi, Friday, April 5, 2024. (PTI: Photo/Ravi Choudhary)

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi is already charting programmes for next five years calling all secretaries, and “this kind of overconfidence and arrogance is not good for the country and democracy.”

He said, who will be the INDIA bloc’s Prime Ministerial face is a matter to be settled only after the results. “First we need to win the elections.”

In an interview to PTI, the Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka 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.

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 is already charting programmes for the next five years calling all secretaries. This kind of overconfidence and arrogance is not good for the country and democracy,” he said.

Noting 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 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 the 2009 and 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The veteran leader had in 2019 lost the seat to BJP’s Umesh Jadhav.

Regarding the Congress candidates for Nehru-Gandhi family bastions of Amethi and Raebareli, he said the 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 BJP 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. The 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 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 the BJP, and some of them were made chief ministers, union ministers and Rajya Sabha members.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Apr 17 2024 | 12:25 AM IST


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