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Kharge Takes ‘Poisonous Snake’ Jibe At PM Modi, Clarifies; Livid BJP Seeks Apology

New Delhi [India]: Amid the high-decibel campaign for the ensuing Karnataka Assembly elections, Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge on Thursday likened Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a “poisonous snake”, drawing a sharp reaction from the BJP, which slammed the “slanderous” statement saying it reflected the “mentality” of the principal Opposition party in the state.

Kharge, who made the remarks at Kalaburagi, later issued a clarification saying his remark wasn’t directed at Prime Minister Modi but at the BJP and its “divisive” ideology. In a tweet, Kharge said, “BJP’s ideology is divisive, hostile and full of hatred and prejudice towards the poor and Dalits. I discussed the politics of hatred and malice. My statement was neither for PM Modi personally nor for any other person.”

“But for the ideology he represents. Our fight with PM Modi is not a personal fight. It is an ideological battle. My intention was not to hurt anyone’s feelings and if knowingly or unknowingly someone’s feelings were hurt, then it was never my intention,” Kharge added.’

“Nor has it been the conduct of my long political life. I have always followed the norms and traditions of political correctness towards friends and opponents and will do so till the last breath of my life. I don’t make fun of individuals and their problems like people in high positions,” the Congress national president said in another tweet.

“I have also seen and suffered the pain and suffering of the poor and downtrodden. For five decades, I have always been opposed to the divisive ideology of the BJP and RSS and their leaders. My political fight was, is and always will be against his politics,” Kharge added.

However, his clarification did not wash with the saffron camp as Union Minister for State for Home, Nityanand Rai, hit back at the Congress national president saying that the grand old party is a habitual offender when it comes to defaming PM Modi and the Other Backward Classes (OBC).

Speaking to media later in the day, Nityanand Rai said, “Earlier, Rahul Gandhi uttered derogatory words (remark using the surname ‘Modi) with reference to our backward classes and now, Mallikarjun Kharge has used objectionable and indecent language against the honourable Prime Minister, comparing him to a poisonous snake.”

“Kharge-ji, it is the Congress party which has been spewing venom. They spread the poison of divisiveness in society, of partition of the country, of corruption in governance and dynasty politics,” Rai said.

Further lashing out at the Congress, the Union MoS said, “Now that the poisonous politics of the Congress have been rejected by the people, their leaders are growing desperate and losing their temper. The people of the country, and especially in Karnataka, will not tolerate the use of such language against PM Modi and will give them a befitting reply in the Assembly election.”

This isn’t the first time that the Congress national president used uncharitable words against Prime Minister Modi.

Earlier, in the run-up to the Gujarat Assembly elections last year, Kharge compared PM Modi to the Raavan (the demon king in the epic Ramayana).

Further, on Kharge’s latest statement, which ruffled feathers in the saffron camp, Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs, Anurag Thakur said the Congress leader made such a remark as no one in the party accepts him as president.

“Mallikarjun Kharge may have been elected as the Congress president but nobody in the party accepts him in that position. Hence, he thought of giving a statement, which is worse than the one (‘Maut Ka Saudagar’) made by Sonia Gandhi (as the Congress president). The Congress should apologise to the nation,” Thakur said.

BJP leader and Union minister Shobha Karandlaje also demanded Kharge’s apology.
“Mallikarjun Kharge is a senior leader and president of the Congress. What is he trying to tell the world? Narendra Modi is the Prime Minister of our country and the whole world respects him. Using such language for our PM shows how much the Congress has stooped. We want him (Kharge) to apologise to the nation,” Karandlaje said.

Union Minister for Education, Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Dharmendra Pradhan, also launched a scathing attack on the Congress president, saying he used such words against PM Modi to “appease his political masters”.

Speaking to the media persons in Bengaluru, Pradhan said, “It seems Kharge-ji used such words to appease his political masters. He must have been under some compulsion.”
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Kharge’s statement reflects the mindset of the Congress.

Speaking to media, Sitharaman said, “It shows the mentality of the Congress. I condemn it. While Rahul Gandhi took out the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ to spread love, as he called it, his party president is using such words against our PM. Mallikarjun Kharge should tender an apology.”

Union Minister Pralhad Joshi also condemned Kharge’s remark, saying the people would teach the grand old party a lesson.

Speaking to media, the Union Minister said, “It is highly condemnable. People will teach them a lesson. I demand an unconditional apology from Kharge.”

“I would also like to remind Kharge and his bosses (in the Congress) that every time they insulted Modi-ji, people gave them a befitting reply,” the Union Minister added.

Meanwhile, ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Belur, a wave of enthusiasm and excitement is palpable among the party workers and locals.

The Belur taluka of Karnataka’s Hassan city is famous for Chennakeshava Temple, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. This 900-year-old temple made of black stone remains the centre of attraction and people’s prayers.

However, this time the talks and discussions are about the arrival of PM Modi, as it will be his first visit to Belur since assuming the highest office in the country.

It is believed that lakhs of people will come to see and listen to Prime Minister Modi.
The workers, who are busy setting the stage for PM Modi’s public meeting, also seemed very excited about his visit.

“The Prime Minister takes care of everyone and I feel delighted to set the stage for him here. There is a lot of eagerness and excitement around his visit. We all want to listen to PM Modi,” Nagraj, a worker, told media.

The local BJP workers also appeared visibly enthused ahead of PM Modi’s visit.
BJP workers who are looking into the arrangements for PM Modi’s programme, said more than two lakh people are expected to attend the public meeting.

Prime Minister Modi is expected to hold as many as 22 rallies across the state over six days. The major highlight of PM Modi’s busy campaign schedule in the poll-bound southern state will be the massive roadshow in Bengaluru on Saturday.

The polls for the 224-seat Karnataka Assembly are scheduled to take place on May 10 and the counting of votes will be done on May 13.

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