Amidst Prime Minister Modi’s discourse from the resplendent edifice of the Red Fort, a vacated seat bearing the name of Mallikarjun Kharge tenderly conveyed a message. The Congress party, elucidating his nonattendance, cited his indisposition.
As the nation commemorated its 77th Independence Day, Premier Narendra Modi orated, while Mallikarjun Kharge, the Congress president, maintained his absence. He extended his message through recorded means, accentuating the roles of bygone Prime Ministers and ascribing a campaign against the opposition to the present administration.
Within a section of the historic Red Fort, where Prime Minister Modi articulated his address, an empty chair stood adorned with Mallikarjun Kharge’s appellation. The Congress attributed his nonattendance to his state of health, stating that he was “under the weather.”
Conversely, Mr. Kharge unfurled the national flag at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, marking his inaugural act as the party’s president. During his address, he also criticized the government, an unprecedented action for a Congress president spanning several decades. The party had traditionally refrained from any reproach or assault on Independence Day.
The nonattendance of Mallikarjun Kharge paralleled his dissemination of a pre-recorded message.
In the heart of New Delhi, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi espoused the nation on its 77th Independence Day, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge was conspicuously absent, electing to dispatch a pre-recorded message. Within this message, he accentuated the contributions of past Prime Ministers and ascribed the current administration with persecuting the opposition.
Within a portion of the venerable Red Fort, an unoccupied seat, christened with Mallikarjun Kharge’s name, bore silent witness to Prime Minister Modi’s oration. The Congress elucidated Kharge’s nonattendance, citing his infirmity as the cause.
Nevertheless, Mr. Kharge raised the national flag at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, marking his first occasion performing this duty as the party’s president. During his discourse, he also censured the government, a precedent-breaking act for any Congress president in numerous decades. The party had conventionally abstained from any form of criticism or reproach on Independence Day.
Within his videographed message, Mr. Kharge paid homage to luminaries of freedom like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Maulana Azad, Rajendra Prasad, Sarojini Naidu, and BR Ambedkar.
He further emphasized the contributions of India’s inaugural Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and other Congress Prime Ministers, such as Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao, and Manmohan Singh, in the nation’s construction. He even acknowledged the legacy of BJP stalwart, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“Every Prime Minister has substantively contributed to the advancement of the nation. Today, certain quarters endeavor to propagate that India’s progress solely transpired within recent years,” declared the Congress president, seemingly insinuating Prime Minister Modi.
“Alongside Atal Bihari Vajpayee, each Prime Minister harbored contemplations for the nation’s growth and enacted numerous strides towards development. It is with a pang that I assert the present jeopardy hovering over democracy, the Constitution, and independent institutions. Novel tools are employed to stifle the voice of the opposition. Not only are the CBI, the Enforcement Directorate, and the Income Tax department executing raids, but also the autonomy of the Election Commission is eroding. The voices of opposition MPs are suppressed, their microphones silenced, their speeches expunged…”
Mr. Kharge enumerated the establishment of the Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), AIIMS, space research, and atomic research as indices of progress. He contended that the present administration had subverted these achievements. Nehru, he pointed out, championed art, culture, and literature in a nascent independent India.
The policies advocated by Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi facilitated India’s self-reliance, he contended, adopting one of Prime Minister Modi’s quintessential catchphrases.
“Great leaders do not obliterate historical narratives to engender new ones. They do not resort to wholesale renaming – they have renamed previous initiatives, infrastructural endeavors; they are disassembling democracy through autocratic methods. They are presently renaming erstwhile statutes that engendered tranquility within the nation. Initially, they evoked ‘acche din’ [good days], subsequently ‘new India,’ and now ‘Amrut Kaal’ – are these alterations not a veiled endeavor to mask their inadequacies?” Mr. Kharge inquired.
In his decennial Independence Day address, Prime Minister Modi took aim at opposition parties, with the Congress in particular. He classified “corruption, nepotism, and appeasement” as the three pernicious evils that necessitated eradication from the nation’s fabric.
“Over the past 75 years, certain quandaries have embedded themselves within our system. Certain political factions indulge in dynastic politics, where the party is synonymous with the family, for the family,” articulated PM Modi, without explicitly mentioning the Congress.