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'Nalayak' jibe only to highlight PM's empty rhetoric for Banjaras: Priyank

"The imputation attributed to me has to be seen in context of PM Modi's remarks made at Kalburgi for the Banjara community, which has been deeply hurt by the anti Banjara-Scheduled Caste policies"

Priyank Kharge

Priyank Kharge

IANS Bengaluru

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Priyank Kharge, son of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, in his reply to the Election Commission (EC) notice has said that he has not violated model of conduct and that he only referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "empty" rhetoric for the Banjara community at an election rally as "nalayak (inept)".
Responding to the Election Commission (EC)'s notice, Priyank, the Congress's incumbent MLA and candidate from Karnataka's Chittapur seat, in his three-page long reply said, "It is alleged by the three BJP leaders, Pyush Goyal, Anil Baluni and Om Pathak that they find what I said to be abusive and that I allegedly invoked caste thus attempting to create disaffection between voters and citizens.
"Even on a strained reading of my comments, the above allegations are completely and wholly unfounded. The barest and most superficial perusal of my comments establishes the false and desperate nature of this complaint," the Congress leader said in his reply.
He further said that caste is a reality of India and only those coming from privileged backgrounds, like the BJP leaders who submitted a complaint against him, will never understand the inequality and discrimination meted out by BJP governments and certain other members of society holding similar beliefs to the BJP vis-A-vis the members of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, the Backward Classes and Minorities.
"The imputation attributed to me has to be seen in the context of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks made at Kalburgi for the Banjara community, which has been deeply hurt by the anti Banjara-Scheduled Caste policies of the Modi-Bommai Governments, who have done nothing for the SC-Banjara community (along with the entire SC-ST fraternity), except for paying lip service and then trampling upon their rights," he said.
Targeting the BJP governments at the Centre and in state, the Congress leader said, "To highlight the completely hollow nature of the PM's promises to the voters, it must be pointed out that the BJP government at the Centre and State have done absolutely nothing to ameliorate the conditions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. On the contrary, the state BJP government has done great injustice by changing the reservation structure three times in ninety days."
He further said that what is most painful to every member of the SC and ST community is that the increased reservation for them have been brazenly rejected by the Modi government in their reply to the Parliament on March 14, 2023.
"This has lacerated the soul of the SC's and ST's across the state of Karnataka. This pains me immensely and especially because of the fact that the Nagmohan Das Committee, which recommended the enhanced reservations for SC's and ST's, was appointed by me as Karnataka's then Minister for Social Justice in order to do justice to the downtrodden sections of the society and bring them at par with full rights, respect and honour," he said.
"I do not think that anyone, including the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi (whose government rejected the increased reservation in its reply to the Parliament) or the Election Commission can understand the agony, anguish and the immeasurable pain suffered by myself and other members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of Karnataka," he said.
"What is even more painful is that on one side our, i.e. SC's and ST's justifiable demands and right of reservation is rejected by the Modi Government and on the other side, we are mocked at and ridiculed by none less than the Prime Minister of India, he noted in his reply to the poll body.
"I am ready to make any sacrifice and to accept any punishment for raising the voice of the underprivileged, the poor and my brothers and sisters of the SC and ST community of Karnataka. I respect the Prime Minister but no one, including the PM, has the authority to trample upon the rights of Karnataka's Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and to mock or ridicule us," he said, adding that "I respectfully submit that I have not violated any provisions of the Model Code of Conduct".
The EC had issued a show-cause notice to Priyank, the son of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge, Wednesday for alleged violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) for his "nalayak" remark against the PM, asking him to submit his reply by 5 p.m. Thursday.
The high decibel assembly election in Karnataka has witnessed the ruling party and Congress trading barbs at each other.
The polling for the 224-member assembly is scheduled on May 10 and counting of votes will take place on May 13.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: May 05 2023 | 11:46 AM IST

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