Bhubaneshwar: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday expressed apprehension that the 2024 Lok Sabha elections would be the last opportunity for the people to save democracy, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi might prefer dictatorship in case his party wins the upcoming polls.
He also urged people to keep away from the BJP and its ideologue RSS, alleging that they are “like poison”.
“This will be the last opportunity for the people to save democracy in India. If Narendra Modi wins another election, there will be dictatorship in the country. The BJP will rule India like Putin in Russia,” Kharge said while addressing a party rally.
Launching a scathing attack on the BJP and RSS, Kharge said that the present government under Modi is being run by intimidating states and leaders of the opposition.
“Notices are being served to the leaders and ED and Income Tax have become weapons to grind the political opponents,” he claimed adding that the people should be aware of the BJP and RSS ideologies. He alleged that the leaders are threatened to leave their parties, friendship and alliances if they oppose the ideologies of BJP and RSS.
Kharge claimed that Rahul Gandhi was frequently threatened as he opposed the BJP and the RSS. “However, Rahul Gandhi did not come under their pressure and continues to fight against such forces that are out to divide the nation,” the Congress president said.
While blaming the BJP-led central government for the Manipur violence, Congress president said, “Even today, people are being killed in Manipur, women are raped, hundreds of houses, cars are being burnt. Where is Modi Ji, where is BJP?”.
“Go to Manipur and Nagaland and show yourself (Modi) to people there. Then you will realize how difficult is it to maintain peace. We will have to make sacrifices to keep the nation united. You do not have that courage. Indira Gandhi was aware of the danger on her life. Still, she did not get freighted. Indira Ji in her last speech in Odisha had indicated about the danger to her life,” Kharge said.
What was her fault, Kharge asked adding had she looted anyone? “No, she had all along worked to keep the nation united. But some people killed her. Rajiv Gandhi also sacrificed his life while following his mother’s footsteps. Rajiv Ji was killed by a human bomb. For what did he died? He died for the nation,” Kharge said.
On Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar returning to the NDA, Kharge claimed it will not have any impact on the polls.
“One person quitting Mahagathbandhan will not weaken us. We will defeat the BJP,” he said.
The Congress president also described Modi as a “habitual liar” whom he accused of misleading the people by assuring two crore jobs every year and Rs 15 lakh money in every Indian’s bank account.
Referring to Modi’s jibe at Congress’s achievements during the last 70 years, Kharge said, “You (Modi) became the chief minister of Gujarat and now the PM because the Congress had held the democracy and Constitution high. But you are now destroying the basics of democracy and the Constitution.”
He said the Congress has given rights to women, Dalits, tribals and the downtrodden by properly implementing the Constitution.
Claiming that Odisha’s ruling BJD and opposition BJP have solemnised a “love marriage”, Kharge alleged that the two parties are looting Odisha and oppressing the poor people of the state.
He claimed that while BJP and BJD are only with rich people, the Congress always stands by the poor.
Kharge said people lost their hard-earned money in the chit-fund scam and the mining loot is a regular phenomenon in the state. As both the parties are hand in glove with each other, culprits are not caught, he claimed.
Kharge claimed that Congress gave Paradip Port, Rourkela Steel Plant, Chilka Naval Academy, Mancheshwar Rail Coach Factory, HAL, Ordnance factory, AIIMS and several educational institutions to the state. “But today Patnaik ji, along with BJP, is allowing the natural wealth here to be looted,” he alleged.
The Congress president said Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru held the last Congress session of his life in this land of Lord Jagannath in 1964.
“Pandit Nehru ji and Biju Patnaik ji were very good friends. He (Biju) believed in the ideology of Nehruji. But today’s Patnaik (Naveen) believes in the ideology of BJP,” Kharge said. Biju Patnaik was Naveen Patnaik’s father and a former chief minister of Odisha.
Without naming anyone, Kharge also targeted Patnaik’s close aide and former IAS officer V K Pandian, who recently quit civil services and joined the ruling BJD.
“Are there no leaders and officers from Odisha to advise the chief minister that someone has to be brought from another state to run the government,” he asked. Pandian hails from Tamil Nadu.
“There are 2.36 lakh vacancies in the state government. Odisha has 29 per cent ST and 16 per cent SC. Still, these people did not get any major job in the Patnaik government,” Kharge said.
Meanwhile, both the BJD and the BJP rejected allegations made by Kharge. “Kharge’s visit and his statement will have no impact on the people of Odisha. The people here have great faith in Naveen Patnaik and therefore elected him for five consecutive times. People know who is developing Odisha,” said BJD leader and minister Atanu S Nayak.
Opposition chief whip Mohan Majhi of BJP said Kharge’s words may not have any impact on the people here as most of them appreciate Modi ji’s works and performances. “BJD will lose, but the benefit will not go to Congress,” Majhi said.