‘BJP tarnishing India’s secular image’: Kharge at Congress' key meet
Starting the two-day Congress working committee (CWC) meeting, Kharge drew attention to “many serious internal challenges” that India faces today.
The Bharatiya Janata Party is tarnishing India’s “modern, progressive and secular” image by allowing the sectarian violence from Manipur to reach Haryana’s Nuh, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said on Saturday.
Kharge also criticised the central government’s key plans and said whenever the opposition questions the government on issues such as inflation and unemployment, it answers through new slogans.
Starting the two-day Congress working committee (CWC) meeting to get his party battle-ready for the upcoming elections, Kharge drew attention to “many serious internal challenges” that India faces today. “The whole world witnessed the heart-wrenching incidents of Manipur. Violence continues there even today from May 3. The Modi government allowed the fire in Manipur to reach Nuh in Haryana. Incidents of violence took place here, and communal tension spread in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi,” the Congress president said.
“These incidents tarnish the image of modern, progressive and secular India. In such a situation, the ruling party, communal organisations and a section of the media add fuel to the fire. It has destroyed the secular fabric of our country but we have to come together to identify and expose such forces,” he added.
It was the first meeting of the working committee after it was reconstituted to induct more women, young faces and additional representatives from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities. The meeting on Saturday will be followed by a meeting of the extended panel, which will discuss preparations for assembly polls in five states and the 2024 Lok Sabha election.
Hitting back at the Narendra Modi government’s core ideas and key plans, including Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) and making India a $5 trillion economy, Kharge said whenever the opposition party questions the government, it has no answers.
“Whenever opposition parties raise these basic issues, instead of giving answers, the government adopts new tactics and gives new slogans. Slogans like self-reliant India, $5 trillion economy, New India 2022 and Amrit Kaal were given. The government thinks that by spending crores on events and advertisements, it can hide its Himalayan blunders,” Kharge said, days after India hosted the G20 meeting for the first time, which was hailed as a success.
“Nowadays, the government is selling the dream of their- largest economy,” he said. “The country will not progress through slogans,” he added, asking party workers to explain to the people that “such slogans will not lead to progress”.
Kharge, the Rajya Sabha’s leader of the opposition, also questioned the BJP’s exuberance on the G20 summit. “We all are seeing how the government is engrossed in its own praise after the G20 event. ₹4,000 crore was spent in Delhi on the G20 meeting to be held by rotation and now Brazil has got the leadership of G-20 in rotation,” he said.
Quoting India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s 1953 speech that said “…the respect of this country in the panchayat of nations is increasing day by day. It has been five years since Independence, but in such a short time, India has gained a lot of respect and along with-it new responsibilities have increased…” Kharge pointed out that from 1953 itself, India’s status in the world began to develop.
Kharge asked the government to “stop celebrating and focus on public concerns and burning issues” as he hailed the success of the three meetings of the opposition INDIA bloc, which now consists of 28 parties. The Congress chief quipped that INDIA bloc’s success “can be gauged from the attacks of PM and BJP leaders. As our caravan progresses, their attacks will intensify.”
Kharge also said that the economy is in “great danger”, pointing at high inflation, record unemployment and top 1% of the country’s citizen’s accumulating 40% of its wealth.
“Inflation is a threat to the lives of the poor and common people. The price of an ordinary thali has increased by 65% in the last five years. 74% people are deprived of nutritious food. The price of pulses has increased by 37% in a year. 65% of the population in our country is youth. Record unemployment rate is continuously trampling their dreams. The future of the youth is in darkness,” Kharge said, listing some of the key talking points of the principal ppposition party in the run up to the elections.
“There is a need to consider that today the top 1% of the richest people of the country have 40% of the country’s wealth, while the bottom 50% of the people have only 3% of the wealth. Due to government policies, the rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer. The gap between them is continuously deepening,” Kharge alleged.
The Congress president again pitched for a caste census and asked the government to make the 2011 socioeconomic caste census data public, a hot topic for the party and the INDIA alliance.
“Our demand is that the process of 2021 Census should be started immediately. Along with that, caste census should also be conducted, so that the needy section of the society can get other rights, including health, education, employment and food security,” Kharge said.