Lok Sabha elections | INDIA bloc intact, will cross 272 seats: Jairam Ramesh

PM Modi's corruption pitch is 'hollow', says Congress communications chief

March 24, 2024 08:19 pm | Updated 09:43 pm IST - New Delhi

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference in New Delhi.

Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh addresses a press conference in New Delhi. | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

The INDIA bloc is intact despite Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's "somersault" and Trinamool Congress (TMC) supremo Mamata Banerjee deciding to be Mamata Banerjee, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh has said, rejecting as "hollow" Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pitch against the Opposition on corruption.

In an interaction with editors of the Press Trust of India at the news agency's headquarters here, Mr. Ramesh also said the Opposition will unitedly cross the halfway mark of 272 in the elections, and oust the BJP from power.

Mr. Ramesh spoke on a range of issues, including electoral bonds, the arrests of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Hemant Soren, who resigned as Jharkhand CM, and also addressed speculations around Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra potentially contesting the Lok Sabha polls from Amethi and Raebareli, respectively.

"Look at the way the electoral bonds scheme has worked. ₹4,000 crore of bonds are directly linked with ₹4 lakh crore of contracts. There is a clear correlation between the electoral bonds and the award of contracts," Mr. Ramesh said, adding that action was initiated by Central agencies against them. He claimed that a BJP MP buys electoral bonds after getting infrastructure contracts.

"To say that Mr. Modi is going to take the corruption plank and use Hemant Soren and Arvind Kejriwal as examples that he is fighting corruption is absolutely a bogus argument. Look at the electoral bonds saga — it is a complete case of quid pro quo," the Congress leader said.

On Opposition unity, he said all 28 parties were together up to December 19, "but Nitish Kumar did a somersault and Mamata Banerjee decided to be Mamata Banerjee. These are the two things that have happened".

"The fact that Nitish Kumar is not part of the INDIA bloc does not mean that the INDIA bloc has collapsed," Mr. Ramesh said, asserting that the Opposition will certainly cross the halfway mark. "Yes, I'm sure that it will add up to 272."

Asked if the INDIA bloc bubble had burst, he said, "No, no. Where has it burst?"

The alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is intact as is the tie-up with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Shiv Sena, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), and the JMM, the Congress leader said. "Our alliance with the CPM and CPI is going to be finalised in West Bengal. We have an 11-party alliance in Assam and we have an alliance with the Samajwadi Party," he said.

“Mamata Banerjee has said that she is part of the INDIA bloc. She is not seat-sharing with us, but she is very much part of the INDIA bloc,” he said.

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