BJP candidate plotting to ‘wipe off’ Mallikarjun Kharge and family, alleges Congress

Congress leaders played an audio clip in which a voice, claimed to be that of Manikanta Rathod, was heard issuing threats against Kharge and family.

ByBellie Thomas

Published May 06, 2023 | 7:16 PM Updated May 06, 2023 | 7:16 PM

Screenshot of the phone conversation audio file

A BJP candidate has hatched a “sinister and ugly plot” to assassinate AICC president M Mallikarjun Kharge and his family, the Congress alleged on Saturday, May 6.

Soon after Congress leaders made the sensational charge, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai announced a probe into the allegation.

Addressing a news conference, the Congress leaders played an audio clip of a telephonic conversation in which a man, purportedly Manikanta Rathod of the BJP, was heard abusing and threatening Kharge and his family members.

Rathod, the BJP candidate in Chittapur, has more than 40 cases registered against him in at least five districts in Karnataka.

Bommai said the veracity of the tape, too, would be probed. He was campaigning in Hubballi.

The Congress claimed that the conversation was between Rathod and a person called Ravi.

“The frustration and desperation of the BJP and its leadership has now reached dangerous proportions,”  senior Congress leaders Randeep Surjewala and Pawan Khera said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Rathod rejected the charges.

“It is all a lie. They are playing some fake audio. The Congress is leveling baseless allegations fearing defeat,” he said.

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Blue-eyed boy of PM, CM: Congress

The senior Congress leaders described Rathod the “blue-eyed boy” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Bommai.

Manikantha Rathod from Chittapur assembly constituency

Manikantha Rathod is the BJP candidate in Chittapur Assembly constituency. (Sourced)

Incidentally, the allegation came even as Prime Minister Modi was in Bengaluru, taking out roadshows ahead of the 10 May Assembly polls.

“There is a designed hatred towards Karnataka’s son of the soil, Shri Mallikarjun Kharge on the part of the central and state BJP leadership,” Surjewala, the AICC general secretary in charge of Karnataka, said.

“The BJP is unable to digest the fact that having been born in a Dalit family to a factory labourer, Kharge has risen from the post of a block Congress president to be the president of the Indian National Congress,” he added.

“On 27 February, 2023, Karnataka witnessed Prime Minister Modi attempting to ridicule Mallikarjun Kharge by his snide and sarcastic remarks that he was not standing under an umbrella during the Congress plenary session,” he said.

“The hatred did not end there. On 2 May, 2023, BJP MLA and general secretary Madan Dilawar wished ‘death’ for Mallikarjun Kharge and said the Congress president is 80 years old, and God can take him away any time (sic),” Surjewala said, adding that the BJP leaders were now openly plotting the assassination of Kharge, and family.

Ground Report: Congress and BJP locked in a fierce battle in Chittapur

Diversionary tactic

The Congress leaders further said that the BJP has been bringing one polarising issue each day to parry questions on 40 percent commission as a bribe under its government.

“Even the abusive and divisive tactics of the BJP have ceased to work for it, so now they are using assassination plots as the last weapon in their armoury,” they alleged.

“Dear @narendramodi ji, since you are in Karnataka, can you please answer why @BJP4Karnataka; Chittapur candidate wants to wipe out our entire family? Your endorsement of such extremists has led to such antisocial elements becoming MLA candidates,” Chittapur MLA and Mallikarjun Kharge’s son Priyank Kharge tweeted.

KPCC president DK Shivakumar said the BJP’s masks were coming off.

“It is deeply disturbing and problematic that a BJP leader has been caught conspiring to ‘wipe off’ Karnataka’s son, AICC President Sri @Kharge and his family in an audio recording. Will BJP or the Election Commission dare to take action against this horrific threat,” he asked in a tweet.

However, the Congress did not lodge a police complaint.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Bommai told reporters during his campaigning in Hubbali that an investigation will be carried out into the matter and the genuineness of the tape would be checked.

Senior BJP leader and candidate contesting from Padmanabhanagar and Kanakapura R Ashoka denied the charge. “Who is going to attack Kharge ji?. It is false,” he said.

Incidentally, Rathod was arrested on November 13, 2022, for allegedly threatening Priyank Kharge. He was later released on bail.