Politics not about individuals but BJP makes it about only 1 person: Kharge on ‘Ravan’ row

NEW DELHI: Days after courting a controversy over his "Ravan" jibe at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and subsequent backlash from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has said that he doesn't comment on any individual or make personal remarks. Politics is not about individuals but policies, he adds, alleging that the ruling BJP is “misusing” his remarks for electoral gains in Gujarat.
"For us, politics is not about individuals. It is about policies, it is about their (BJP's) performance, and it is about the type of politics they practice. They make it about only one person, who is everywhere. The BJP's style of politics often lacks the spirit of democracy. I gave so many instances regarding his (PM) style of campaigning at all levels of elections, but they are misusing my remark for electoral gains," Kharge has told news agency PTI.
"I don't comment on any individual or make personal remarks because I also have experience of parliamentary politics for 51 years. I criticised (the BJP government) on the issues of development, inflation, unemployment, poverty," the 80-year-old leader adds.
The remark
At a rally in Ahmedabad earlier this week, Kharge had compared PM Modi with “100-headed Ravan”.
“In all campaigns, he only talks about himself. Don't look at anyone else, just look at Modi and vote … how many times do we have to see your face? How many forms do you have? Do you have 100 heads like Ravan," he had asked sarcastically.
'Insult to every Gujarati!'
The BJP seized on the comment, calling it an insult to every Gujarati. Even PM Modi himself hit back at the Congress during his address at an election rally in Panchmahal. Accusing the Congress high command of steering such comments, he said there is a competition among the party leaders as to who will use the most abusive words for him.
"I respect Khargeji. He will say what he has been told to say. The Congress party doesn't know that this is the Gujarat of Rambhakts. In this land, he was asked to call me a Ravan with 100 heads," PM Modi blasted.
"We know that the Congress does not accept the existence of Lord Ram or believe in Ayodhya's mandir. They have a problem with Ram Setu as well. Now, the Congress party has invoked Ravan from the Ramayana to insult me," he added.
The counter: 'BJP making issue to divert people's attention from real problems'
Later on Thursday, Kharge clarified that this was “his opinion”, saying the BJP is making it an issue to divert people's attention from real problems.
"This would be my opinion. But by making this an issue, Modi is diverting people's attention from issues like unemployment, inflation, GDP growth, development and poverty."
The same day while addressing a rally in Vadodara district's Waghodia where Congress has fielded ex-MP Satyajitsinh Gaekwad, Kharge said PM Modi gives the party and its senior leaders four quintals of abuses.
“Modi says that the Congress and the opposition give him two kilos of abuses. But you (Modi) can’t digest your food without abusing the Congress. You give four quintals (400kg) abuses — sometimes to me, sometimes to Rahul Gandhi, and at other times to Sonia Gandhi. But we don’t say anything,” Kharge said.
This, however, was not the only time that Kharge was mocking PM Modi. On Sunday, he had called Prime Minister Modi a "leader of lies".
During a conversation with PTI later in the week Kharge said the prime minister's whirlwind campaign in Gujarat reflects badly on the BJP government's performance in the state. "Did any PM (in the past) campaign like this? When I was a student, I used to see Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, then I saw Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, then I even saw Morarji Desai and leaders of other parties … Had the BJP government in the state worked for the people for the past 27 years, there would not have been the need to campaign so much," he said.
'AAP working at somebody's behest'
He even alleged Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was working at somebody's behest "to divide the Congress's votes". The AAP is contesting 181 of 182 seats in Gujarat this time.
Kharge said they are doing propaganda. “Our feedback is that they want to disturb the Congress vote. I don't want to say anything because even if I tell the truth, it will be used as propaganda against the Congress," he said.
Asked if he was insinuating that the BJP had brought in the AAP to eat into the Congress's votes, Kharge said he had received feedback from party leaders which shows that the AAP was working on "somebody's instructions". "I won't say that they (the BJP) have sent them. The AAP's work itself reflects that," he said.
Congress's silent campaign in Gujarat
The Congress, which has been out of power in Gujarat for 27 years, carried out a "silent" campaign this time, Kharge said. "The people are responding. In tribal, rural and backward areas, Congress has got an edge. Even the upper caste people are fed up with this government due to inflation, unemployment, corruption, economic growth which is falling daily," he said. "Silently, people are working against the BJP, they have made up their minds (to oust it). So our voters are invisible, but our people are working.”
He went on to allege that even the media is afraid that if anybody speaks the truth, they will be harassed in different ways. “The BJP has been (in power) in Gujarat for 27 years, and for nine years, Modiji is in Delhi," he said.
He compared the situation to former PM Indira Gandhi's comeback victory from Chikmagalur Lok Sabha seat in 1978 when the voters were not vocal about their choice but favoured her.
On its MLAs defecting to the BJP — after the 2017 elections — he said the BJP "bought over" those MLAs "by using central agencies and blackmail". "That is why we are saying, to save democracy, defeat the BJP," the Congress president said.
( With inputs from agencies)

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