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Wait For Few More Days For Amethi, Rae Bareli Candidates: Congress Chief Mallikarjun Kharge

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GUWAHATI, April 27: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday said that the names of party candidates for the prestigious Amethi and Rae Bareli seats in Uttar Pradesh will be announced in a “few days”.

Addressing a press conference here, he claimed that though the BJP says the corrupt must be put in jails, when leaders facing corruption charges join the saffron party, they are “put on the lap” and sent to Rajya Sabha or assembly.

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He also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that the latter’s “words have lost credibility”, while also accusing him of trying to polarise the country.

“You have to wait for a few more days… when the names of candidates come from people to me and I sign the notification, it will be announced,” he said when asked about candidates for Amethi and Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituencies.

“Those questioning Congress leaders for changing constituencies must also tell me how many times have (Atal Bihari) Vajpayee and (Lal Krishna) Advani changed their seats,” Kharge said, when asked about the BJP criticising Rahul Gandhi for fighting the elections from Kerala’s Wayanad instead of Amethi.

“There was a demand from the people of Wayanad and he went there. Leaders have to go as demanded by the people,” he said on Gandhi contesting from Kerala.

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Hitting out at the Prime Minister, Kharge alleged, “Modi is trying to intimidate everyone, with either CBI or ED or something else.”

Comparing PM Modi with his predecessor Manmohan Singh, he said, “In his 10 years as the Prime Minister, did you ever hear Manmohan Singh talking about snatching someone’s mangalsutra? Did he badmouth anyone?”

“Singh would make one statement and it would be printed worldwide. If Modi speaks and his words have no credibility, what can we do about it?” he said.

Asked about PM Modi’s allegation that Congress’ manifesto is about appeasement of Muslims, Kharge asserted that it is a document with assurances for everyone, from youths to farmers, workers, women and backward classes.

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Lashing out at the PM, he said, “You should think before you speak. Our Nyays and guarantees are for everyone… when you are repeatedly saying it’s for Muslims, you are polarising, dividing the people and one day you will repent.”

Asked for his reaction to Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s remark that “Kharge should join the BJP”, following the Congress chief’s statement that “Modi should read the grand old party’s manifesto first, then we can have a discussion”, the Rajya Sabha MP said he will speak to the PM, who is his opponent in Parliament, and not to a CM.

“I have spoken to Modi and not your (Assam) CM because I am Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. I was also in Lok Sabha. I have a little bit of competency in Parliamentary office as well… I will speak to Modi. Why he (Himanta) bothers about it? Let him face the people here (in Assam) and then speak about me,” Kharge added.

Alleging that the BJP “rolls out the red carpet” for opposition party leaders facing corruption charges when they enter the saffron fold, Kharge said, “They (BJP leaders) say that corrupt leaders will be put in jail, but when those same people join the BJP, they make them sit on their lap.”

He said there are many such examples of corrupt leaders from other parties joining the BJP and being made ministers, MLAs or Members of Parliament.

Kharge questioned turncoat leaders “who grew up in the Congress and later left it” that if the grand old party was “so bad, why did they waste 30-40 years” in it.

“Congress is like a flowing river, it is not affected by a few people leaving it. It is more than a century-old party. It has a history of making India independent and giving it democracy and a constitution. We have shown that democracy has sustained in India only due to the Congress,” the party president asserted.

Noting the contribution of Congress leaders in the freedom struggle, Kharge said, “People who freed the country are in the Congress. No one from the BJP had fought for Independence or development. They talk about patriotism and try to project that (Jawaharlal) Nehru, Indira (Gandhi) and Lal Bahadur Shastri were nothing in front of them.”

“It is only Modi for them and they think India attained Independence in 2014,” he added.

Kharge maintained that the ongoing elections are about “sustaining democracy and saving the Constitution”.

“Those in the government, especially Modi, said they are for ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’. But actually what happened was ‘sabka satyanaash’,” he alleged.

To a question on whether the Congress failed to make electoral bonds a poll issue, the party chief said it has raised the matter.

“We have been saying there is no level playing field. Loss-making companies were giving them (BJP) donations of Rs 500-1,000 crore. It was ‘chanda do, dhanda lo’,” he added. (PTI)

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