Kharge underlines the failures of the BJP government talking about the ongoing violence in Manipur, threats to leaders, fake promises, etc. He further accused them of destroying democracy and the constitution, leading to potential risks of authoritarian rule if Modi wins again.
Expressing his concern, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Monday said that the 2024 Lok Sabha elections could be a final chance for people to save democracy. He warned the people that should Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party emerge victorious, there is a potential risk of dictatorship, drawing parallels to the current rule of Vladimir Putin in Russia.
While addressing the worker’s convention in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, Kharge said “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,” urging the public to distance themselves from the BJP and its ideologue RSS, alleging that they are like “poison”.
In a scathing attack on the BJP and RSS, Kharge said that the current Modi-led government is operating by threatening states and opposition leaders. He alleged “Notices are being served to the leaders and ED and Income Tax has become weapons to grind the political opponents,” highlighting the need for the public to be cautious of the ideologies of the BJP-RSS.
Kharge claimed that leaders face threats to leave their parties and alliances if they dissent against these ideologies, mentioning the frequent threats faced by Rahul Gandhi for opposing the BJP and RSS.
“However, Rahul Gandhi did not come under their pressure and continues to fight against such forces that are out to divide the nation,” he said.
Kharge also made mention of the ongoing Manipur violence, questioning, “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 it is to maintain peace. We will have to make sacrifices to keep the nation united. You do not have that courage,” he asserted, and spoke about Indira Gandhi’s assassination and how in her last speech in Odisha, she had indicated the danger to her life.
“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 die? He died for the nation”.
Referring to the recent shift of the JD(U) led by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar back to the NDA, Kharge assertively said “One individual’s departure from the Mahagathbandhan will not diminish our strength; we are determined to overcome the BJP”.
Accusing Prime Minister Modi of deceiving the public with unfulfilled promises of generating 2 crore jobs every year and depositing Rs 15 lakh into every Indian’s bank account, Kharge labelled him a “habitual liar”.
In response to Modi’s criticism of Congress’s accomplishments over the past 70 years, Kharge argued, “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 further mentioned Congress’s contributions saying, the party has given rights to women, Dalits, tribals and the downtrodden by effectively implementing the Constitution.
Aiming at the political dynamics in Odisha, Kharge alleged that the ruling BJD and opposition BJP are jointly exploiting and suppressing the underprivileged people of the state. He claimed that, unlike the BJP and BJD, Congress always stands by the poor.
He claimed that culprits, in the chit-fund scam and the ongoing issue of mining exploitation in the state, which has caused financial losses to the public, are not caught because both the parties are hand in glove with each other.
Posing a question to the people about the combined efforts of Modi and Naveen Patnaik in Odisha, Kharge contended that it was the Congress that contributed significantly to the state with projects like Paradip Port, Rourkela Steel Plant, Chilka Naval Academy, Mancheswar Rail Coach Factory, HAL, Ordnance Factory, AIIMS, and various educational institutions.
“But today Patnaik ji, along with BJP, is allowing the natural wealth here to be looted,” he alleged.
Kharge also highlighted the significance of Odisha as the sacred land of Lord Jagannath, recalling that India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, held his last Congress session there in 1964. Drawing attention to the ideological shift of Naveen Patnaik from that of his father Biju Patnaik (former chief minister of Odisha) he said, “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 criticized Naveen Patnaik’s close aide, former IAS officer V K Pandian, who recently joined the ruling BJD after quitting civil service, without mentioning his name. “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, referring to Pandian who hails from Tamil Nadu.
Kharge drew attention to the substantial number of vacancies in the Odisha state government, saying, “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,” and called people to unite and advocate for their rights.
On the other hand, both the BJD and the BJP reportedly rejected allegations made by Kharge saying his visit and statements 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,” BJD leader and minister Atanu S Nayak said.
Moreover, Kharge alleged that while 30 lakh posts are vacant in government institutions across the country, Modi is not filling them because SC-CT, and OBC people would also get jobs.