Bengaluru: Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge retracted his remarks in which he compared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to a poisonous snake, saying “there is no personal enmity with PM Modi, and it is a battle of ideologies”.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, hit back at the veteran Congress leader, with one top party leader saying “PM Modi is a poisonous snake for the corrupt”.
“BJP’s ideology is divisive. It spreads hatred and the party will create enmity against Dalits. I had discussed the politics of hatred. I have not issued the statement against PM Modi or any particular individual,” Kharge said, adding: “The statement was about the ideology he represents.”
Meanwhile, BJP leaders have criticised Kharge for his comments on PM Modi.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become a nightmare for traitors. The remarks on PM Modi show the culture of Congress,” Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said.
Reacting to Kharge’s remarks at a press conference in Konanakere village in Shiggaon taluka on Thursday, Bommai said that “PM Modi has become a nightmare for traitors, anti-social elements, terrorists, anti-nationals, and peace breakers”.
“I did not know why Kharge felt like that. How far is it correct for him to talk in such a manner about PM Modi? The Congress party has reached its current stage today because of talking in that manner. The intoxication of power has not gone away yet. Karnataka is a land of culture and everyone is respected here.
“We may differ with the ideology of Kharge, but he will be respected for his seniority. Unfortunately, such a senior person is talking in such a way,” Bommai said.
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani, who is in Karnataka for the upcoming May 10 Assembly election campaigning, also slammed the Congress party.
“I want to convey to Mallikarjun Kharge ‘saheb’, you are the president of a political party. That party’s history is such that if a Dalit becomes leader, Rahul Gandhi will get his sandals (slippers) removed from him.
“Congress is such a party that when an Adivasi woman is made candidate for the post of President, it humiliated her. It has made those who insult Hindu religion the party’s star campaigners. Congress seeks support of SDPI, it talks of releasing PFI goons. Kharge saheb is older than me in age. This insecurity does not bring dignity to you,” she said.
“I will tell Kharge ji with all humility that you are going to lose elections in Karnataka and that is why you are talking about this. Everyone knows the fight between (Karnataka unit Congress president) D.K. Shivakumar and (former CM) Siddaramaiah in the state,” Irani said.
Dharmendra Pradhan, Union Minister for Education said that “PM Modi has great respect for Mallikarjun Kharge”.
“PM Modi commands respect in Karnataka, which is unbearable for Kharge. He has spoken like an uncivilised man about PM Modi. This will not be accepted by anyone,” he added.
BJP national general secretary C.T. Ravi said “PM Modi is truly a poisonous snake to the corrupt”.
“PM Modi will protect patriots and finish off the corrupt by becoming a poisonous snake,” he said.