All India Congress Committee (AICC) president and Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha M. Mallikarjun Kharge held that the term ‘Bharat’ that BJP was extensively using as an alternative to India was a counterweight to the INDIA, the coalition of Opposition parties in the run up to 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
Speaking to mediapersons at his residence in Kalaburagi on September 9, Mr. Kharge pointed to the Constitution of India which called the country as India as well as ‘Bharat’ and asserted that both meant the same land.
“They [BJP] find something or the other [to counter Congress]. Isn’t our country called Bharat in our Constitution? It is clearly said that India, i.e. Bharat, is a Union of States. Who objected to calling India Bharat when it is clearly stated in the Constitution? Everybody raises the slogan Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Why did they [the BJP] come up with Start-up India, Digital India, Khelo India, Make In India and many more initiatives [when they wanted Bharat in place of India]? We [Congress] conducted Bharat Jodo Yatra, a walk-on-foot that covered 4500 km. One should not create confusion and divide society by raising such issues. The BJP idea of Bharat is an afterthought to counter the INDIA [Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance, a common platform of Opposition parties against ruling BJP at the Centre],” Mr. Kharge said.
When asked about the Special Session of the Parliament to be held from the September 18, Mr. Kharge said that convening a Special Session without consulting Opposition was a bad message in the democracy.
“One would have some understanding of the agenda of the regular Parliament Sessions such as Monsoon Session, Winter Session and Budget Session. When a special session is called, one would have no idea about the agenda to be discussed in the special session. It is a common practice that floor leaders and Opposition parties are consulted before calling for the Special Session. No such practice is followed this time. No notice is given to us. We are surprised that the session is called without consulting any Opposition Leaders or parties. It is a bad message in democracy,” Mr. Kharge said.
One nation – one election
To a question on the Union Government’s One Nation, One Election, Mr. Kharge categorically said that the very concept was unfeasible to the diverse political realities.
“Elected bodies – such as Gram Panchayats and Taluk Panchayats – get dissolved at certain places and you cannot stop them. In some other occasions, Parliament take the decision to dissolve State Assemblies. It isn’t easy [to hold all elections at once]. It is better to solve the existing problems,” Mr. Kharge said.
On JD(S)-BJP alliance
When asked about the consequences of possible alliance between BJP and JD(S) for Lok Sabha elections in Karnataka, Mr. Kharge said that JD(S), which had the term Secular in its name, must clarify on the issues that it was going to compromise for forging alliance with BJP.
Refusing to comment on the ongoing public discourse over Sanatana Dharma following Tamil Nadu minister Udhayanidhi Stalin’s remarks on it, Mr. Kharge said that he would not like to mix religion with politics.
“Now we are focussing on getting politically united and fight [against BJP]. When it comes to religion, let us debate and see who is right – whether Basaveshwara, Narayana Guru and Ambedkar are right or you [BJP] are right. Our aim at present is to get united and fight against BJP in 2024 Lok Sabha elections,” Mr. Kharge said.