INDIA bloc leaders flay PM Modi’s bulldozer remark, Congress seeks EC action

Mallikarjun Kharge said PM Modi's speech is divisive and meant to instigate, and that he has never seen such a Prime Minister.


Published May 18, 2024 | 6:13 PM Updated May 18, 2024 | 8:40 PM

INDIA bloc leaders slam PM Modi

Taking strong objection to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charge that Congress will “bulldoze the Ram temple” if elected to power, the party, on 18 May, demanded that the Election Commission of India take action against the PM for instigating people.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said it is the BJP that uses the bulldozer.

“It is the BJP that uses the bulldozer. We have never run a bulldozer on anyone to date. The Election Commission should take action against Modi ji and the BJP for saying such things about the temple of God which is currently under construction by the trust. By saying such things, they are creating anger among the public. They are inciting the public and instigating them,” he said.

“The Prime Minister himself is giving instigative speeches, action should be taken against him. If some small leader had done this, we would not have paid attention, but the person sitting on the post of PM is speaking such language,” Kharge added.

INDIA bloc leaders slam PM Modi

Modi, while campaigning in Uttar Pradesh on 17 May, had claimed that the Congress and the SP would run a bulldozer over the Ram temple if elected to power, and asked them to take lessons from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on where bulldozers should be used instead.

Several INDIA bloc leaders slammed PM Modi over his claim and said that they were committed to protecting the religious freedom of all citizens and ensuring that the country runs as per the Constitution.

Kharge, Shiv Sena (UBT) president Uddhav Thackeray, and NCP (SP) chief Sharad Pawar jointly addressed a press conference in Mumbai on the last day of the campaigning for the final phase of the Lok Sabha polls in Maharashtra on 20 May.

The leaders responded to questions on PM Modi’s charge that the opposition bloc will bulldoze the Ram temple, dilute quota for SC, ST and OBC categories, and restore Article 370 if voted to power.

Kharge accused Modi of inciting people over the issues “that the Congress will never do”.

Related: Congress, SP will run bulldozer over Ram temple if voted to power: PM Modi

On protecting religious freedom

Thackeray said the INDIA bloc’s government will complete the construction of the Ram temple in Ayodhya, while Pawar said it will be the duty of their government to protect not just temples, but the places of worship of all religions.

Kharge also said reservation as enshrined in the Constitution will stay.

“We have never used a bulldozer on anyone. Modi has the habit of lying and inciting people about things which Congress will never do or which are impossible to be implemented,” he said.

On Article 370 and free ration

To a question on his party’s stand on Article 370, Kharge said, “I am not answerable to Modi. We will implement what we have promised in our manifesto.”

Attacking the PM, he said, “Wherever he goes, he tries to create division, speaks of dividing society.”

Kharge said Modi speaks of providing a free ration of 5 kg to 80 crore people. “Our government enacted the Food Security Act and it is bound to implement it. The Congress has now said that we will give 10 kg free ration,” he said.

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Pawar said the previous government had taken the decision of the Food Security Act, but now Modi is taking credit for providing a 5 kg free ration.

Thackeray said the INDIA bloc has several prime ministerial faces, while the BJP has only one and even that is not working.

“Now they cannot replace the face at the fag end of poll campaign. We have decided what we should do when we get the majority,” he said.

PM Modi’s’ ‘fake’ Shiv Sena attack

Attacking the BJP and PM Modi for calling his party “nakli” (fake) Shiv Sena, Thackeray said the BJP will also call RSS ‘nakli Sangh‘.

Citing BJP chief JP Nadda’s interview, in which he said that BJP is capable and runs its own affairs, while the RSS is an ideological front and does its own work, Thackeray said, “BJP wants to disassociate itself with an organisation that gave birth to it.”

The “jumla era” will end on 4 June and “achhe din” will come when the INDIA comes to power, the Sena (UBT) chief said.

He accused the BJP-led government of misusing of central probe agencies and said the INDIA bloc government will restore the lost glory of Mumbai and Maharashtra.

Kharge said PM Modi is campaigning for a state government which has been formed by betrayal.

“I have never seen a PM who incites people and divides society in my 53 years of political life. Threat, blackmail and allurement tactics are used to break opposition parties on the directives of Modi, but people will defeat him,” he said, adding that the opposition alliance will win 46 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in Maharashtra.

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“We will simplify GST. People of India are looking at INDIA alliance with hope,” he said,

Thackeray slammed the BJP for mocking him for using the word ‘deshbhakt’ (patriot) instead of Hindu while addressing gatherings.

“Aren’t Hindus deshbhakts?… Those who oppose the word deshbhakts are anti-nationals,” he said.

“Pakistan is in BJP’s mind. Perhaps Modi still relishes (former Pakistan PM) Nawaz Sharif’s birthday cake. Modi continuously remembers Pakistan. I have never seen Pakistan flags in my rallies,” he said, adding that false narratives were set to divert people’s attention from basic issues.

When asked about the Assembly elections due later this year, Thackeray said the state polls will be fought more vigorously and unitedly and the alliance will win.

‘Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary don’t make decisions’

If BJP says Congress will bulldoze Ram mandir, that party will also ban RSS, Thackeray said.

“We have never used a bulldozer on anyone. Bulldozer is their government. This comment is to instigate and the Election Commission should take action against him. Our government will function as per the Constitution. We will protect everything,” Kharge said.

Asked about Mamata Banerjee’s comment that she will support the INDIA bloc government and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary’s remark that the Bengal Chief Minister cannot be trusted and she might go with the BJP, Kharge said, “Mamata Banerjee is with the alliance. She has recently said that she will join the government. Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary will not take the decision. The decision will be taken by me and the high command and those who don’t agree will go out.”

“Modi’s speech is divisive and meant to instigate. I have never seen such a prime minister,” he said.

Kharge slammed Modi for labelling the Congress’s manifesto as that of Maoists. “Who is your advisor Modiji…This is laughable. You can’t fool all the people every time,” he said.

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