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Congress Launches Counterattack on Modi for Misleading Addresses

Congress Launches Counterattack on Modi for Misleading Addresses

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Manas Dasgupta

NEW DELHI, Apr 25: The Congress has launched a major counterattack on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to clear the doubts in the minds of the voters created by his distorted version of the Congress manifesto and has demanded him either to prove his charges against the Congress or submit an unconditional apology to the nation.

While the Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah called “blatant lie” Mr Modi’s claim that the Congress government in Karnataka had transferred to the Muslims reservation quota meant for backward classes and Dalits, the party president Mallikarjun Kharge has written an open letter to Mr Modi stating that he was “neither shocked nor surprised by your language or your speeches” in trying to mislead the people over the Congress manifesto. “It was expected that you and other leaders from your party would start speaking in this manner after you saw the dismal performance of the BJP in the first phase of the elections,” he wrote in the letter shared on X.

Describing the Narendra Modi government as “suit-boot ki sarkar”, Mr Kharge alleges that it works for the corporates “whose taxes you reduced, while salaried class pays higher taxes.” “The poor pays GST even on food and salt and rich corporate claim GST refunds. That is why when we talk of inequality between rich and poor, you are purposely equating it with Hindu and Muslim. Our manifesto is for the people of India whether they are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Sikh Jain or Buddhist,” he writes.

Addressing an election rally in Rajasthan’s Tonk on Tuesday, the Prime Minister accused the Congress of trying to extend reservation on the basis of religion and give it to Muslims. He also doubled down on his earlier allegation that the Congress has hatched “deep conspiracy” to snatch people’s wealth and distribute it among a “select” group. The Congress has denied the charge and said it has no such plan.

At the Tonk rally, the Prime Minister alleged, “As soon as the Congress formed the government at the Centre in 2004, one of the first things it did was to reduce the SC/ST reservation in Andhra Pradesh and give it to Muslims. This was a pilot project which the Congress wanted to try in the entire country.”

“Between 2004 and 2010, the Congress tried to implement Muslim reservation in Andhra Pradesh four times but due to legal hurdles and the awareness of the Supreme Court, it could not fulfil its intention,” he claimed. “In 2011, the Congress tried to implement it throughout the country. They played the game of snatching away the rights provided to the SC, ST and OBC and giving them to others for vote bank politics,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said when the BJP government in Karnataka got an opportunity, it abolished the Muslim quota created by the Congress government out of the reservation for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes.

Hitting back, Mr Siddaramaiah said the Prime Minister’s claim that the Congress government in Karnataka transferred the reservation quota from backward classes and Dalits to Muslims was “a blatant lie.” “It stems from ignorance but also indicative of his desperation born from a fear of defeat. No leader in the history of our country has ever demeaned the office of the Prime Minister to such a low level,” he said in a statement also posted on X.

“Being in a position of responsibility, Prime Minister Narendra Modi must either substantiate these irresponsible allegations with evidence or apologise to the nation. Where has the Congress stated that it would take away reservations from backward classes and SC/STs to give them to Muslims? Which state government under the Congress has implemented such a policy? Is there any official government document related to this? Prime Minister Modi must present all these details before the nation,” he said.

Constitutional reservations, he said, cannot be arbitrarily amended. “Revisions to reservations can only be made based on reports from social and economic surveys. Moreover, state governments do not have the authority to modify reservations for Scheduled Castes and Tribes. Such amendments require the approval of both Houses of Parliament. The fact that a Prime Minister lacks even this basic knowledge is truly tragic for our country,” he said.

Mr Siddaramaiah said that Muslims have been provided reservation in Karnataka by including them in the 2B category for backward classes. “This is not something done now. It has been based on the reports of the Backward Classes Commissions starting the L. G. Havanur in 1974. This reservation has been in place for the past three decades. Neither the BJP government previously in power at the state, nor the Narendra Modi-led Union Government that has been in power for the past ten years, has questioned this reservation. Moreover, no one, including the BJP, has challenged it in court,” he said.

Targeting the previous state government led by the BJP, Mr Siddaramaiah said the Prime Minister appears to have “overlooked how the Basavaraj Bommai government, with the sole intention of dividing votes based on religion before the last Assembly elections, attempted to arbitrarily amend the reservation and got reprimanded by the Supreme Court”. “The Apex Court has issued a stay on the decision to cancel the 4% reservation for Muslims. The Supreme Court ordered that the revised reservation should not be implemented until further notice. It is regrettable that even such important information has escaped the attention of the Prime Minister,” he said.

“In Karnataka, the previous BJP government had announced an increase in the reservations for Scheduled Castes from fifteen to seventeen percent and for Scheduled Tribes from three to five percent. They also claimed to have written to the Union Government about this. However, on March 14, 2023, the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, Narayana Swamy, informed the Lok Sabha that neither had such a letter been received from the state’s BJP government, nor was there any proposal to increase reservations under consideration. Did Prime Minister Narendra Modi not take note of this decision?” he asked.

Tagging former Prime Minister and Janata Dal (Secular) chief HD Deve Gowda, Mr Siddaramaiah added, “I am eager to know the opinion of Modi’s new ally Shri H D Deve Gowda. Shri Deve Gowda, who once boasted of implementing the reservation for Muslims, should clarify his current stance.” “Despite having governed for the last ten years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s lack of significant achievements proves that he is a failed leader,” he said.

Mr Kharge in his letter also sought an appointment with Mr Modi to explain to him the Congress “Nyay Patra” to remove from his mind if he had any misgivings about the Congress manifesto. He also accused the Prime Minister of ignoring atrocities faced by poor and backward women of the country. “Today, you talk about their mangalsutra. Isn’t your government responsible for the atrocities against women in Manipur, atrocities against Dalit girls, garlanding of rapists?” “When farmers are committing suicides under your government, how are you protecting their wives and children? Please read about the Nari Nyay which we will be implementing when we come to power,” he adds.

The letter says it has become a “habit” for the Prime Minister “to seize on few words taken out of context and create a communal divide.” “You are lowering the dignity of the chair by speaking in this manner. When all of this is over, people will remember that the Prime Minister of the country used such vulgar language for fear of losing an election,” Mr Kharge wrote.

The Congress president urges the Prime Minister not to “get carried away” by his supporters clapping at his speeches. “They are not allowing you to hear the crores of right thinking citizens who are disappointed by your speeches,” he said. “The Congress Nyay Patra aims at providing Nyay to the youth, women, farmers, labours and marginalised people across all castes and communities. You are being misinformed by your advisors about things that are not even written in our manifesto. I would be more than happy to meet you in person to explain our Nyay Patra so that as the Prime Minister of the country you don’t make any statements that are false,” the Congress president wrote before signing off.

Earlier, soon after the Prime Minister’s remarks on Sunday, Mr Kharge had described it as a “hate speech” aimed at diverting attention from key poll issues. The BJP had responded that the Prime Minister had called a spade a spade and echoed people’s sentiments. BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia told reporters that the opposition was in pain as the Prime Minister has showed them the mirror about its past.



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