New Delhi: Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge drawing a comparison between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a “100-head” Ravan has invited sharp reactions from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) at a time when rival parties are in the thick of canvassing as poll-bound Gujarat enters the last leg of campaigning.
Speaking at a public rally in Ahmedabad’s Behrampura on Tuesday, November 29, Kharge said, “Modi ji is prime minister. Forgetting his work, he keeps campaigning in corporation elections, MLA elections, MP elections, everywhere… All the time he’s talking about himself – ‘You don’t have to see anyone else, just look at Modi and vote’. How many times do we see your face? How many forms do you have? Do you have 100 heads like Ravan?”
Kharge’s remarks in Hindi drew laughter and applause from the people in attendance. The Congress leader hit out at the BJP’s reliance on Modi for campaigning in elections.
“I’ve been seeing that votes are sought in the name of Modiji, be it municipality elections, corporation elections or state elections…Ask for votes in the name of the candidate. Is Modi going to come and work at the municipality? Is he going to help you in times of your need,” he continued further.
The BJP was quick to hit out at Kharge, accusing him of “insulting Gujarat’s son” repeatedly. BJP IT Cell head Amit Malviya took to Twitter to say, “Unable to take the heat of Gujarat election, pushed to the fringe, Congress national president Mallikarjun Kharge loses control over his words, calls Prime Minister Narendra Modi ‘Ravan’. From ‘Maut ka Saudagar’ to ‘Ravan’, Congress continues to insult Gujarat and its son.”
Malviya in the tweet was referring to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s “Maut ka Saudagar (merchant of death)” comment made during the 2007 Gujarat election, targeting Modi, who was then serving as the chief minister of the state. The comment, which had become controversial, referred to the 2002 communal violence in the state.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Malviya described Kharge’s latest comments as “condemnable”, and said they reflected the Congress’s mindset. “It’s an insult not just to PM Modi. It is an insult to every Gujarati, to Gujarat,” he said.
Earlier, on Sunday, November 27, Kharge had called Modi a “leader of lies” and accused him of gaining sympathy by calling himself “poor”.
“A person like you [PM Modi] claims to be poor. I’m one of the untouchables. People drank your tea, nobody would’ve had my tea…If you say it for sympathy, people are smart. How many times will you lie? He’s the leader of lies…,” the Congress leader had said at a rally in Banaskantha, an Adivasi belt in Gujarat.
Five years ago, as Gujarat geared up for the 2017 assembly elections, another Congress leader – Mani Shankar Aiyar – called Modi a “neech aadmi (despicable person)”, triggering a major political row. The BJP successfully used the barb against the prime minister to have a comeback in an election that could have gone in the Congress’s favour. The BJP accused the Congress party of revelling in ridiculing a man who went on to become a prime minister from a humble background. Although the BJP won the 2017 election, its tally came down from 115 (in 2012) to 99 in the 182-member house. The Congress’s tally went up from 61 (in 2012) to 77 in 2017.