The Congress will give a non-Bharatiya Janata Party government to the country under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge said on Tuesday in his maiden public address after becoming Congress president.
Joining the Bharat Jodo Yatra in Hyderbad for the first time after being elected to the top party post, Kharge launched a sharp attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the Himachal Pradesh poll schedule was announced but not of Gujarat so that the PM can inaugurate many more bridges like the one that collapsed in Gujarat’s Morbi.
He also slammed Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, saying he was reaching out to opposition parties while supporting the Bharatiya Janata Party on key bills in Parliament.
KCR is going to other states and meeting people, he went to Kolkata, then Punjab and Tamil Nadu, Kharge said referring to the Telangana CM’s outreach efforts to Mamata Banerjee and other non-Congress leaders.
“Look after your house first instead of weakening the party which is alive from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, is ready to fight.
“If you were against the BJP rule then why did you support the black farm laws brought by them, they (the Telangana Rashtra Samithi) supported the triple talaq bill as well,” said the 80-year-old leader who took over as Congress president on October 26.
Recalling his tenure as the leader of the Congress in Lok Sabha, he said on the one hand the TRS (now Bharat Rashtra Samithi) members used to support the BJP on various bills, and still do, on the other they say they want to bring a non-BJP government in the country.
“If anyone will bring a non-BJP government, then under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, under Congress’ leadership, we will do it. We have that strength in us,” Kharge asserted.
To bring the Congress to power at the Centre, it is important to work with full strength and commitment, he said addressing a huge crowd that had gathered for the corner meeting of the Yatra at the Indira Gandhi statue on Necklace Road in Hyderabad.
Gandhi, along with other leaders, party workers and a crowd of supporters who had joined him from the Charminar where he unfurled the national flag, reached Necklace Road. Minutes later, Kharge joined him on stage and the two leaders hugged each other as supporters cheered on.
Kharge tore into KC R and his government, saying the people of Telangana brought them to power but he is trying to destroy everything.
“There is no difference between KCR and Modi, both our together,” he alleged.
Kharge said lakhs of people had joined the Yatra as it moved from Kanyakumari to Hyderabad and claimed that lakhs more would join from Hyderabad to Marathwada.
He exuded confidence that the Congress will form government at the Centre in 2024 and said the United Progressive Alliance government had done a lot of good work.
Attacking the BJP over the Morbi incident, he said they inaugurated a bridge that fell in just five days. He slammed the prime minister for taking digs when a similar incident had happened in West Bengal.
“You had repaired that bridge … which fell and took the lives of women, children and elderly. So Modi lies and if you keep supporting lies, the country will be destroyed,” Kharge said.
“Our (Congress) work is before you. Modi used to say what was done in 70 years and I kept saying that if nothing had been done in 70 years, you would not have become PM.
“You became PM as Jawaharlal Nehru strengthened the foundations of democracy. We strengthened democracy and you got the benefit of that,” the Congress president said, hitting out at Modi.
He said it was the Congress that protected the Constitution drafted by B R Ambedkar.
“He (Modi) has been roaming in Gujarat for six days. Himachal polls schedule was announced but not for Gujarat because he has to inaugurate many more such bridges like the one that collapsed in Morbi,” Kharge said.
Criticising the government over the unemployment issue, Kharge said 13 lakh government jobs are available in the country “but the PM announced he will give only 75,000 jobs”.
“There are six lakh jobs for SC/ST and OBC. You are not filling up those posts and boasting about 75,000 jobs,” he said.
Taking on the PM, Kharge said, “You promised two crore jobs, now eight years have passed where are the 16 crore jobs, give an account of that.”
“If you keep lying in this manner, the country’s youth will rise like we are seeing during the Bharat Jodo Yatra,” he said.
This was his first address at a public meeting, though he had addressed party workers and the media at the event at AICC headquarters in Delhi when he was given his certificate of election to the post of Congress president on October 26.
Kharge also slammed the government over the rising prices of essential commodities.
Congress will always stand with the poor, farmers, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and the oppressed, he asserted.
He alleged the BJP and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh are trying to divide the people of the country, making people fight among themselves over religion and language.
Kharge also said it was the Congress that realised the demand of establishing Telangana as a separate state as per the wishes of the people.
In his remarks after Kharge, Gandhi said no power can stop this yatra as this is the real voice of India.
Accusing the TRS and the BJP of working together, Gandhi said whenever there’s any bill in Parliament, the KCR-led party supports the BJP and also diverts attention from Opposition issues.
“Your CM does drama before polls but he’s in direct line with PM Modi. He picks up the phone here and Modi picks up the phone there. PM Modi gives orders to your CM on phone,” Gandhi alleged.
He also accused Modi of helping his crony capitalist friends.
Gandhi attacked Modi over high petrol, diesel and LPG prices and recalled that Modi had criticised the UPA for price rise when the prices of these commodities were much less.
The march on Tuesday resumed from Matha Temple in Shamshabad and halted at the Legacy Palace at Bahadurpura in Hyderabad for an afternoon break.
The Yatra’s night halt will be at Gandhi Ideology Center in Bowenpally.
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