Staff Correspondent

‘None of the Congress leaders have raised the issue’

MYSORE: General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee Ghulam Nabi Azad on Wednesday clarified that none of the Congress leaders, including those from the Dalit community, raised the issue of resignation of senior leader Mallikarjun Kharge as Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly, and accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of playing mischief in view of the election to the Lok Sabha.

“It is a conscious decision of the party to ask Mr. Kharge to contest the Lok Sabha election. After serving the party for over 35 years in the State, it is time he is elevated to national politics. It is like a promotion to Mr. Kharge who is being elevated as leader of national stature,” Mr. Azad, who is in-charge of party’s affairs in Karnataka, said here.

Participating in a meet-the-press programme organised by the Mysore District Journalists’ Association, Mr. Azad, who campaigned for party candidate for the Mysore seat H. Vishwanath, said the party’s decision on Mr. Kharge should be appreciated and felt that nobody should feel disappointed over it since he was entering national politics.

“Moreover, he has been appointed as a member of the CWC. I feel no injustice has been done to Mr. Kharge,” he said. There was no need for anybody to feel let down over Mr. Kharge’s resignation. Mr. Kharge had put in his papers on his own. “It is a practice in the Congress to pick leaders from the States to national politics and Mr. Kharge is one among them,” Mr. Azad said.

On whether the former Deputy Chief Minister Siddaramaiah would replace Mr. Kharge as the Leader of the Opposition, he said the Congress Legislative Party would take a decision on it.

Mr. Azad said the Congress would increase its tally by nearly 50 seats from the last election. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) would form government again at the Centre. “The UPA partners, who were not with the Congress at this moment, will return to it after the election. It is due to local compulsions that some partners are not with us, but will surely return to us,” he added.

Mr. Azad claimed that the parties in the Third Front and others would not go with the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance, but would join UPA after the election.

KPCC working president D.K. Shivakumar and Mr. Vishwanath were present.