INDIA group will edge BJP out in ’24: Kharge

Sep 15, 2023 11:58 PM IST

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge believes that the INDIA alliance will succeed in the upcoming elections, citing voting patterns and data. He also dismissed controversy over his absence from a recent G20 dinner, stating that he is of cabinet rank and not comparable to BJP party chief JP Nadda. Kharge also accused the BJP of using the upcoming special session of Parliament as a campaign tool. He expressed confidence in the alliance's unity and said that even if seat-sharing talks are 90% successful, the alliance will have an edge over the BJP. Kharge refused to comment on the topic of sanatana dharma.

Voting patterns and data suggest the INDIA alliance will succeed, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge said ahead of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in Hyderabad over the weekend that will see his handpicked team coming together for the first time.

Mallikarjun Kharge (PTI)
Mallikarjun Kharge (PTI)

In an interview that comes just ahead of the end of his first year as party chief, Kharge, 81, insisted that even if the seat-sharing talks within INDIA were 90% successful, the alliance will have an edge over the Bharatiya Janata Party.

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Kharge, whose absence from the invite-list of the G20 dinner last weekend created a controversy, and prompted some of the Congress’ chief ministers to skip the event, dismissed explanations that this was on account of the protocol of no party chief being invited. Reacting to the BJP’s clarification about party chief JP Nadda not being invited as well, Kharge asked: “Is he a leader of Opposition?”.

“How can you compare me with Nadda? He is a party leader. I am of cabinet rank and when you have ministers of state there.....”

The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha also claimed that upcoming special session of Parliament was going to be used as a campaign tool by the Bharatiya Janata Party. He added that the PM wants a “prachar-madhyam” (publicity platform) which is why the session was being called. “Self-praising session, more or less; that is why they are doing it,” Kharge said.

Explaining the journey to the formation of INDIA, Kharge said there were many warm-up meetings that led to the coalition finally taking shape. “When you fight together, you will have a good result. We knew that and that’s why they all came here - Sharad Pawar, Nitish (Kumar), Tejashwi (Yadav), all political heads ...” He also said that the meetings so far have shown the alliance’s “unity and confidence”. The Congress is doing its own survey, as are other parties, Kharge added, explaining the work going on as a precursor to seat-sharing talks. Responding to a question of making the alliance work when the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are direct rivals in Punjab and Delhi, and the Congress and the TMC are direct rivals in West Bengal, he said, “everything is not easy but we will take it case by case. Even if we succeed 90%, it will work out. It is better to do something than to do nothing.”

Kharge also refused to be drawn into a discussion on the hot-button topic of the moment — sanatana dharma. Following DMK minister Udayindhi Stalin’s comments against it, several BJP leaders, including the Prime Minister have targeted INDIA for its anti-Hindu sentiments. “I don’t want to talk on religion,” he said.

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    Sunetra Choudhury is the National Political Editor of the Hindustan Times. With over two decades of experience in print and television, she has authored Black Warrant (Roli,2019), Behind Bars: Prison Tales of India’s Most Famous (Roli,2017) and Braking News (Hachette, 2010). Sunetra is the recipient of the Red Ink award in journalism in 2016 and Mary Morgan Hewett award in 2018.


    Saubhadra Chatterji is Deputy Political Editor at the Hindustan Times. He writes on both politics and policies.

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