BJP can’t be trusted, its manifesto is just a pack of lies: Mallikarjun Kharge

Criticising the Modi-led government for its failure to fulfil past poll promises such as providing two crore jobs annually and doubling the income of farmers, the Congress chief says the BJP’s manifesto is silent on issues such as rising food prices and unemployment; he also asserts the INDIA bloc’s main aim is to safeguard the Constitution and democracy

Updated - April 15, 2024 12:08 am IST

Published - April 14, 2024 11:08 pm IST - Nagpur

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge addresses the public meeting in support of party candidate from Nagpur Lok Sabha Constituency, Vikas Thakre, ahead of Lok Sabha Polls, in Nagpur on April 14.

Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge addresses the public meeting in support of party candidate from Nagpur Lok Sabha Constituency, Vikas Thakre, ahead of Lok Sabha Polls, in Nagpur on April 14. | Photo Credit: ANI

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge called the ruling Bharatiya Janata party’s (BJP) manifesto as the “biggest jumla [platitude]” and dismissed it as “just empty jugglery of words”. In an exclusive interview with The Hindu, he questioned the Narendra Modi-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government’s failure to address vital issues and deliver on previous poll promises. Excerpts.

What is your opinion on BJP’s manifesto for the Lok Sabha election?

It’s the biggest jumla and just a pack of lies. Mr. Modi’s guarantee is a ‘warranty of jumlas’ as he has failed to fulfil his past promises. They didn’t fulfil previous commitments, so who will trust them now? Those who resort to empty promises cannot fight a big war for the country, be it financial, social or educational. He (Mr. Modi) did not do any major work during his tenure that could have benefitted the people of the country. The prices of food items have skyrocketed and youngsters are demanding jobs, but their manifesto has nothing on these issues. The government failed to deliver on promises such as providing two crore jobs annually, doubling the income of farmers, ensuring Cost plus 50% on Minimum Support Price (MSP) for farmers, and depositing ₹15 lakh in each bank account.

What is the Congress’s stance on alleged discrimination against SC, ST and OBC students at the country’s premier institutions like IIT and IIM, and how do you plan to fix it at institutional levels? 

We are fighting this issue in Parliament, particularly since the tragic death of Rohit Vemula (a doctoral student at the University of Hyderabad) in January 2016. Discrimination of any kind is unacceptable. It is disheartening that even a single generation didn’t get a chance to pass (out of top institutions). Instead of promoting them, they are being discriminated. We are committed to devising specific solutions to prevent such incidents. Even (Congress leader) Rahul Gandhi has been vocal about this government’s exclusion of SC, ST and OBC communities from positions of power, both in government and the private sector. 

Mr. Gandhi has been advocating for diversification in the private sector. What is your party’s stance on reservation in the private sector?

We firmly believe in the necessity of reservations in the private sector and that we are going to fight. This requires either an amendment or the formulation of a separate Act.  

How does your party view sub-categorisation of Scheduled Castes? 

The matter is currently pending with the Supreme Court. We will abide by the court’s decision and we will explore alternative avenues if necessary. 

The Bharat Jodo Naya Yatra concluded in Maharashtra. Do you believe this will positively impact the upcoming election?

Undoubtedly. When a leader (Mr. Gandhi) undertakes a padayatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, engaging with crores of people, including Dalits, Adivasis, and youth, and listening to their concerns, it certainly leaves an impact. Mr. Gandhi started Nyay Yatra from Manipur, a region overlooked by Mr. Modi. That is the courage he has and it will yield favourable results for us. 

Could key figures like Maharashtra’s former Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, Baba Siddique and Milind Deora leaving the Congress affect it negatively?

Our Maharashtra leadership, including Congress Legislature Party leader Balasaheb Thorat and Pradesh Congress Committee chief Nana Patole, are best suited to address the potential impact of these departures. Even on the impact of Prakash Ambedkar contesting separately, they are best to answer, as I’m not aware of which pockets he (Mr. Ambedkar) has the influence and how it would impact the party. 

It appears that there is internal discord within the Congress regarding seat-sharing arrangements with the allies, particularly with the Shiv Sena (UBT). Do you believe that your State leadership has failed to address these concerns, especially with Sangli and certain seats in Mumbai?

Whosoever is dissatisfied with the seat-sharing arrangement comes and discusses it with us. However, maintaining unity sometimes requires making sacrifices. Our priority is to preserve the alliance and defeat Mr. Modi. Our main goals are to safeguard the Constitution and democracy and to remove those who threaten these institutions. Yes, I agree that there is some disappointment among a few leaders concerned about grassroots support, but those issues could be resolved. Unfortunately, in the previous election, the Congress secured only one seat. In toto, we have decided to give more seats to Uddhav Thackeray, given their larger number of sitting MPs. Adjustments were made in seat distribution, but it does not mean they have taken the lion’s share while we have conceded. We sacrificed one or two seats in the interest of unity, which does not indicate weakness on our part. 

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.