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Kharge comments on ‘poisonous snake’ barb

‘My statement was not for PM Modi, but for ideology he represents’

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NEW DELHI, April 27 (PTI): Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge backtracked from his “poisonous snake” remark against Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a poll rally in Karnataka and said his intention was not to hurt anyone’s feelings and the “statement was not for PM Modi, but for the ideology he represents”.

“My intention was not to hurt anyone’s feelings, if knowingly or unknowingly someone’s feelings were hurt, it was never my intention,” Kharge said in a series of tweets in Hindi.

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“BJP’s ideology is divisive, disharmonious, full of hatred and prejudiced towards the poor and Dalits. I discussed this politics of hatred and malice. My statement was neither for PM Modi personally nor for any other person, but for the ideology he represents,” he said.

“Our fight with PM Modi is not personal. It is an ideological battle. My intention was not to hurt anyone’s feelings and if knowingly or unknowingly someone’s feelings were hurt, then it was never my intention and nor has it been the conduct of my long political life,” he further said.

Addressing a poll rally at Ron in Gadag district of Karnataka, the Congress president likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a poisonous snake, drawing the BJP’s ire.

“…don’t make a mistake. Modi is like a poisonous snake. If you say, ‘no, it’s not poisonous. let’s lick it and find out.’ Don’t go to lick it. If you lick, you die,” he said while speaking in Kannada.

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Kharge further added, “(if you think that) No, no, this is not a poison because Modi has given it, ‘good man’ Prime Minister has given it, let’s try it and lick it’. If you lick that poison then you will sleep forever”.

Several BJP leaders including Union ministers have attacked the Congress chief for his remark, saying this shows the party’s mindset and desperation.

Kharge said he has always followed the norms and traditions of politics towards friends and opponents and will do so till the last breath of his life.

“I don’t make fun of individuals and their problems like people in high positions because I have also seen and suffered the pain and suffering of the poor and downtrodden.

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“For five decades, I have always been opposed to the divisive ideology of the BJP and the RSS and their leaders. My political fight was, is and will always be against his politics,” the Congress chief said.

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Twitter, “President of Congress Shri. Mallikarjun Kharge says, ‘Modi is like a poisonous snake’. Shocking that Kharge ji, also the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha speaks so about the PM. He is now trying to wriggle out. Hate is what is coming out. Kharge ji should apologise.”

BJP IT department chief Amit Malviya, who also shared the video where Kharge made those comments, on Twitter, said: “Now Congress President Kharge calls Prime Minister Modi ‘poisonous snake’… What started with Sonia Gandhi’s ‘maut ka saudagar’, and we know how it ended, the Congress continues to plummet to new depths. The desperation shows Congress is losing ground in Karnataka and knows it”.

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