NEW DELHI: The Congress’ “sacrifice” to protect secular values and save the Constitution in Karnataka should not be construed as weakness, said Mallikarjun Kharge, leader of the party in the Lok Sabha.
“The Congress agreed to make Kumaraswamy the chief minister despite the JD-S getting only 37 seats against our 77. We made this sacrifice to keep the secular values intact and save the Constitution. It should not be seen as our weakness,” Kharge told The Sunday Standard over phone from Bengaluru.
The veteran Congressman said the ongoing power tussle within the Congress-JD(S)government in Karnataka were “teething problems” and would be sorted out soon. “Some tension is natural in a coalition government. This is an experiment. We’ll resolve the issues soon,” he said. Slamming the BJP, which tried to form a government in Karnataka “through the backdoor”, Kharge said the Congress would build similar coalitions in other states to defeat the saffron party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. “The nature of the alliance would be different in states, depending upon the local conditions. There are several like-minded parties with whom we fight directly in states. For instance, TMC in West Bengal, CPI-M in Kerala, TRS in Telangana and BJD in Odisha,” he said.
Corruption, Dalit atrocities, farm distress and social tensions would be the Congress’ main plank against the Modi government. While trying to rally forces against the BJP, the Congress was also trying to put its own house in order, Kharge said. “Preparations for 2019 polls started a year ago. Rahul Gandhi is bringing new faces in party so they get a chance to work,” he added.
The focus would also be on convincing the new voters how they had been taken for a ride by PM Modi over the past four years. “There are around 60 per cent voters who are below 50 years. We have to convince them as they had been influenced by Modi’s false promises in 2014 polls,” he said. “PM’s constituency Varanasi could not become Kyoto and the bullet train project is facing land acquisition problems. There are no jobs, small industry is down and the black money is still not back. People have seen through the Modi government’s hollow claims.”