Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi how long he would exploit his humble background for political gain instead of seeking votes on the basis of performance.
At a rally at Dediapada in Gujarat, he asked, “For how long will you exploit your humble origin? ‘Main gareeeb hun, mujhe gaaliyan dete hain, meri auqat poochhte hain.’ Arre, aise baat kah kar ke agar aap sympathy jamane ki koshish kar rahe hain toh log ab hoshiyar ho gaye hain, utane bewakoof nahin hain (‘I am poor, they abuse me, ask my worth.’ If you intend to generate sympathy by such talk, people are intelligent; they aren’t that foolish now).”
Modi has been accusing the Opposition of abusing him every day, and at rallies in Gujarat has complained that the Congress has threatened to “show him his place” and called him names. The Prime Minister has said the Congress leaders are “mai-baap (masters)” and he is only a “sevak (servant)”.
On Sunday, Kharge said: “Modi asks what did the Congress do in 70 years. If we didn’t do anything, you wouldn’t have got democracy to become the Prime Minister. A person like you who always claims ‘main gareeb hun (I am poor)’… Hum bhi gareeb hain. Hum toe achhuton main aate hain. Kam se kam tumhari chai to koi peeta hai, meri chai bhi nahin peeta koi (I am also poor. We are treated as untouchable. At least people drink your tea, nobody drinks our tea).”
Kharge, a Dalit, saw his mother and sister burnt alive in a caste war, and his father worked as a labourer in a factory to ensure his child got a good education. Kharge studied and became a lawyer before he joined politics.
Kharge said Modi worked for the rich and the powerful and projected his humble origins to fool the people.
Arguing that Modi and the BJP should ask for votes on the basis of performance, Kharge said: “The BJP is ruling Gujarat for 27 years. If you can’t solve people’s basic problems in 27 years, people should throw out the government and opt for a better system. The Prime Minister talks of a double engine. If two engines can’t move the train, a new engine must be brought in.”
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