Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday said his party is willing to forge a viable alternative by aligning with like-minded parties in order to get rid of the "anti-people" BJP government in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, and is ready to make any sacrifice required to achieve the goal.
In his address at the Congress' 85th plenary session, Kharge also took a swipe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, alleging that the "pradhan sevak of Delhi, who gets advertisements printed every day, is serving his own friend".
The Congress chief launched a blistering attack on the BJP-led government at the Centre, alleging that "the DNA of those sitting in Delhi is anti-poor" and they are attempting to "destroy" democracy. He also called for a people's movement against the prevailing situation in the country.
Hailing party leader Rahul Gandhi for the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Kharge said the Kanyakumari-to-Kashmir march united the country with people from all walks of life coming together.
The yatra emerged as a strong voice against the unprecedented challenges that people face today, Kharge said.
"Such challenges include continuing assault on the constitutional values, democracy and social fabric of our country, issues of national security at the border with China, the prevailing atmosphere of hatred and fear, all-time high inflation, record unemployment and the increasing economic inequality," he said.
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In the prevailing difficult circumstances, the Congress is the only party that can provide capable and decisive leadership to the country, Kharge asserted.
From 2004 to 2014, the Congress-led alliance with like-minded parties effectively served the people of the country, he noted.
"We once again look forward to forging a viable alternative by aligning with like-minded parties to defeat the anti-people and undemocratic BJP government.
"We are ready to strive for the welfare of the people of our country and (will make) whatever sacrifices that are required," Kharge said.
Kharge also said the goal for the upcoming state elections and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls is clear.
The Congress president's remarks assume significance as they come amid talk of forging Opposition unity. The Congress' vehement criticism of the TMC has drawn a sharp response from the party, signalling cracks in the Opposition ranks.
In his address, Kharge also alleged that the people in power were attacking people's rights and there is a need for a movement against such attempts.
He also raised the slogan of "Seva, sangharsh aur balidan, sabse pehle Hindustan (Service, struggle, sacrifice. The country comes first)".
Kharge also claimed that the BJP is breaking parliamentary and constitutional traditions and "misusing" agencies such as the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for toppling governments.
He claimed that the plenary session was also targeted with ED raids in Chhattisgarh, adding that Congress leaders fought bravely to ensure that the session could be held.
In an apparent reference to industrialist Gautam Adani, Kharge said, "I want to ask at what crossroads is our country standing where farmers have a per-day income of Rs 27 while the wealth of one of the prime minister's friends is Rs 1,000 crore."
He claimed that 72 per cent MSMEs (Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) could not earn anything during Covid but the wealth of one of the "friends" of the prime minister increased by 1,300 per cent.
"The 'pradhan sevak' of Delhi who gets advertisements printed every day is serving his friend," Kharge alleged, in an apparent swipe at Modi.
He also claimed that the BJP-led government is "handing over all the country's assets to his friends".
"Rail, BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited), SAIL (Steel Authority of India Limited), they are selling everything, from the sky, land to everything in existence," he said, adding that people are worried whether the LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) and the SBI (State Bank of India) will survive or even these institutions will be "sold".
"Such is the situation today that the poor and the middle class are suffering, price rise has destroyed household budgets but the wealth of a handful of crony capitalist friends have increased so much that one of them became the second richest in the world," he said.
He also alleged that amid economic disparities, discrimination is being carried out against the poor, SCs (Scheduled Castes), STs (Scheduled Tribes), OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and minorities.
They are being "trampled under the bulldozer of power", Kharge said.
He also launched an attack on the government over the border issue with China, claiming that the Chinese intruded but the "PM said no one has come in".
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has also said this and then talked about personal issues, saying his father was not given promotion, Kharge said.
The government cannot talk like this, he added.
Restoring the status quo ante of April 2020 will only prove that "you have a 56-inch chest, otherwise we would know that it has shrunk," Kharge said in a swipe at the prime minister.
Kharge asserted that going forward, the Congress' aim is to generate employment for crores through MSMEs, control the inflation and the rising prices of essential commodities, reduce the gap between the rich and the poor and ensure that farmers get a fair price for their produce.
He said the party will also make efforts to rid the country of the prevailing environment of hate and spread harmony.
"Our aim is to stop the use of money power, muscle power and the misuse of government agencies like CBI, ED in toppling democratically elected governments. This is the Congress' vision of participation and partnership in the country's development," Kharge added.
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