Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s claim of working for Dalits, saying the BJP fielded an MLA who was refused a Congress ticket for the Rajasthan Assembly polls for allegedly thrashing a Dalit engineer.
Harshadhipati Valmiki has been bedridden for a year after allegedly being thrashed by the Congress’ Bari MLA Girraj Malinga and his supporters.
Mr Kharge’s remarks came shortly after Modi targeted the Congress government in Rajasthan over alleged atrocities against women and Dalits during a poll rally in Bharatpur.
Barely a couple of hours after PM Modi’s rally, Mr Kharge and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot addressed a gathering in the district’s Weir town where they sought to corner the prime minister over the issue.
“(PM) Modi, who says he is a messiah of Dalits, gave a ticket to Girraj Malinga, who was refused a ticket by us for thrashing Valmiki,” Mr Kharge said.
The Congress leaders also met Mr Valmiki at the Sawai Man Singh Medical College in Jaipur before arriving in Weir.
The BJP has fielded Malinga for the November 25 elections from the Bari seat.
A case against Malinga and others was registered in March 2022 after two engineers were allegedly assaulted at the Bari office of the electricity department in Dholpur district. Later, he surrendered before the police commissioner in Jaipur and was subsequently arrested.
“It is a pity … Girraj Malinga, who was not given a ticket by us (Congress) because he beat up a man so much that he was on the verge of dying. It is not acceptable to give a ticket to such a man even if we lose (the seat). We cannot see a man beating a Dalit youngster,” Mr Kharge said.
“On the one hand, you talk about poor Dalits and you invite those who beat Dalits by giving them tickets,” he said.
“What could have happened if you did not give a ticket (to Malinga)?” Mr Kharge asked.
He said a person with such an ideology should not get a place in any party.
The Congress leader also said there are 30 lakh jobs in the public sector but the Modi government provided fewer than one lakh of those. He alleged that the Modi government keeps people from ST/ST and OBC communities away from government jobs.
Mr Kharge also asserted that PM Modi can try as much as he wants but the Congress will retain its government in Rajasthan.
“(PM) Modi can try as much as he wants, the Congress will retain its government in Rajasthan,” he said.
Assembly polls in Rajasthan will be held on November 25. The votes will be counted on December 3.
Mr Kharge also lashed out at the BJP-led Centre over the Agniveer scheme for short-term recruitment in the armed forces and said it was an attempt to mislead youngsters.
“The Centre brought the Agniveer scheme to mislead youngsters. We will find a way out if the Congress forms the government (at the Centre),” he said.
Mr Kharge said big dams, roads and infrastructure were developed during the tenure of former prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru while Indira Gandhi nationalised banks and abolished privy purses.
He claimed the BJP leaders studied in schools and colleges built by the Congress government and yet they abuse the Congress.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)