BJP Turning Reservation Into Hindu-Muslim Issue To Divide Votes: Kharge

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Hitting out at Congress leaders who switched to the BJP, Mallikarjun Kharge said the ones who left were not rooted in the party’s ideology

NEW DELHI — The Congress is in favour of providing reservation benefits to every economically backward person, but the BJP is turning it into a Hindu-Muslim issue to polarise voters, Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge has said in an exclusive interview with NDTV.

Reservation in jobs and education has emerged as one of the biggest talking points in the ongoing election. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has alleged that the Congress plans to give reservation of Muslims from the quota of Dalits and tribals. The Congress has denied this.

“We will give reservation to everyone who is economically backward. This is a policy matter and partners of the INDIA alliance will decide how to do this,” he said.

Countering the BJP’s charge, he said, “Does the Constitution say that reservation can be given to Muslims on the basis of religion? Does the Congress manifesto say this. Muslims who are poor must get justice. We stand by that, but they are turning this into a Hindu-Muslim issue to divide votes.”

Hitting back, Mr Kharge alleged that it is the BJP which had deprived people of reservation benefits. “As many as 30 lakh positions are vacant. They did not try to fill them. Out of them, SC, ST and OBC candidates would have got around 15 lakh jobs. They are misleading people, lying to them. They are not recruiting professors in university, not getting candidates from SC, ST and OBC communities. They are getting RSS-trained people,” he alleged.

Hitting out at prominent Congress leaders who switched to the BJP, Mr Kharge said the ones who left were not rooted in the party’s ideology. In an exclusive interview with NDTV, Mr Kharge said, “They would move around with Rahul Gandhi. He ensured that they get ministerial berths, helped them create a political identity. Now suddenly, they remember Ram Temple?”

Asked about these leaders’ claim that they were not growing within the Congress organisation, Mr Kharge said, “Those who were not rooted in our ideology have switched sides. They say they did not get importance here. Are they getting it in BJP? What is their identity there? They switched because they were scared.”

Mr Kharge said the Congress is hopeful of a good show in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls and that the BJP tally reached its high point in the last election. “We will do well in Rajasthan, we won’t score a zero this time. In Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, too, we will get some sears. Last time, we won just one seat in Maharashtra. But this time, the Maha Vikas Aghadi is fighting strongly and will win at least 30 seats. The BJP’s tally is decreasing. They reached their peak, they cannot go beyond that. But we are scoring where we lost,” he said.

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