Kharge skips Red Fort function; says couldn’t have attended other I-Day events due to security restrictions

New Delhi: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge Tuesday skipped the Independence Day function at the Red Fort from where Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation and after facing flak from the BJP said he did not attend as he would have missed other I-Day functions lined up due to security restrictions.

A chair reserved for Kharge, who is also the leader of opposition in Rajya Sabha, was seen empty during the 77th Independence Day function at the Red Fort.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal was among several dignitaries, diplomats and ministers present at the event at the Mughal-era fort.

Kharge, however, unfurled the national flag at his residence and later at the Congress headquarters where the Independence Day function was also attended by Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders.

The BJP hit out at Kharge saying it shows the party’s “mindset” and that it cannot think beyond “dynasty”.

The Congress president said he has a problem in his eyes and also had to unfurl the national flag at his residence and then at the Congress office.

Asked about his absence from the function at the Red Fort, Kharge said he could not have reached the Congress office in time from Red Fort. “I did not go there due to paucity of time,” he said at the Congress headquarters.

Kharge said if he was present at Red Fort, he would not be allowed to leave the venue till the prime minister, the Speaker and the defence minister left and then he could not have reached his residence where he had to unfurl the national flag out of protocol at 9.20 AM and then at the AICC headquarters.

Congress leader Manickam Tagore said they celebrated Independence Day with the people of the country.

“When Lok Sabha opposition leader suspended… When MPs are suspended for an indefinite period… When opposition leaders’ speeches are expunged if we mention Adani… When mikes are switched off… what else we can do? We celebrate Independence Day with people,” he posted on X.

Party spokesperson Pawan Khera said in a post, “Apparently the BJP is upset that Kharge ji was not present at the prime minister’s Red Fort speech.” “Does the prime minister realise that his route arrangements would have made it impossible for Kharge sahib to reach the party headquarters in time for the flag hoisting function? Do we not have the independence of hoisting the flag at our headquarters on Independence Day?” he said.