In what is causing a major controversy, top Congress leaders including Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge along with Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi skipped the Red Fort Independence Day event where the Prime Minister addressed the nation on the occasion of the 77th Independence Day. Photos of his empty chair are being shared widely on the internet.
According to the Congress, Mallikarjun Kharge did not attend the function due to ‘security’ reasons, “If he had attended the Red Fort function, he would have missed the flag-hoisting ceremonies at his house and party headquarters. He couldn’t attend the function at Red Fort due to security reasons. It takes two hours to reach the venue and he couldn’t leave earlier,” party officials said and seemed to blame the PM’s security and route arrangements for the reason of Kharge’s absence from the Red Fort event.
Meanwhile, Mallikarjun Kharge gave another statement on his absence saying that he wasn’t ‘feeling well’ but he went ahead and participated in the Independence Day function at his party headquarters. The Congress party has however, not yet given any reason for the absence of Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi from the event.
Mallikarjun Kharge did, however, upload a video message on the social media site ‘X’ before the Prime Minister’s speech where he said, “Some people make it look like the country developed in the past few years. But that is not true. When the British left the country, the situation was as such that not even a needle used to be made in the country. Then Pandit Nehru took major initiatives, set up steel plants, made dams, established institutions like IIT, IIM, AIIMS. Indira Gandhi-Lal Bahadur Shastri bring in the green revolution, made India self-reliant.”
He went to speak about the democracy and the Constitution today “were in danger” and the Opposition leaders were being “silenced” due to raids by probe agencies, including the CBI and the ED. He highlighted the contributions made by previous prime ministers of the country, including Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, PV Narasimha Rao, Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. He also mentioned former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
The Prime Minister in his address raised the issue of ‘parivaarvad’ in what could be perceived to be a response to Kharge, said, “It is the commitment of my life to keep fighting against corruption. Second, dynasty politics has ruined the country. It has taken away the rights of people. And the third evil is appeasement that has left a blot of the national character. We have to fight against these three evils with full force – corruption, dynasty politics and appeasement,” in what was a full-fledged attack on Congress and the opposition as a whole. He also said the word ‘parivaarjan’ several times and the reason for using the word is in the words of Prime Minister Modi is, “I am one of you. I have come from amid you. My sweat is for you. I work for you not because you entrusted me with the responsibility. I do it because you are my family members. And I can’t see your suffering, your dreams crashing.”
While it is a known fact that political face-offs will happen at every opportunity that politicians get, but the Independence Day event should be such an event where all politicians and political parties come together irrespective of their ideologies for the sake of their love of the country if not for the mutual respect for each other. The act of the president of India’s ‘oldest political party’ missing the event along with the person who aspires to be the next PM of India is sad and disappointing. While they did celebrate Independence Day in their party headquarters, which is worth praising. However, they should have attended the Red Fort event which has been a tradition since the independence of India and should’ve respected the traditions of the nation if not the Prime Minister.
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