Congress hits back at PM Modi’s remarks about Muslim League’s imprint on its manifesto, files complaint with Election Commission

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By Our Correspondent

NEW DELHI – With the 2024 Lok Sabha elections coming nearer, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign has adopted a shrill tone and tenor bordering on abuses against the Opposition parties in its desperate attempt to cling to power at any cost. The latest barb has come from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has said that the Congress’s manifesto, titled ‘Nyay Patra’, has a stamp of Muslim League and its activities during the Partition.

In a series of election rallies in different states, Modi said the Congress’s manifesto, released on April 5, was a “bundle of lies” and reflected the same ideology as that of the Muslim League prevailing at the time of Partition. “The Congress wants to impose the Muslim League’s outlook on India today. Its manifesto completely bears the imprint of the Muslim League,” Modi said, adding that the whatever was remaining in the document was dominated by the Leftist ideology.

In his further attacks on the largest Opposition party in the country, Modi said the Congress had the lack of vision, principles and policies and it wanted to take the country back to the previous century with its “regressive ideology”. He said the Congress manifesto had exposed the party’s real face, as each of its pages had the contents with the potential to break the country into fragments.

The Congress leadership was shocked by the utterances of the BJP leader holding the highest executive office in the country and was outraged by his act of drawing parallels with Muslim League as well as the allegation that the Congress leaders were showing hostility towards national integrity and Sanatan Dharma. BJP chief J.P. Nadda has also accused the Congress of appeasement in its manifesto and asked the party to explain why it was against the majority community.

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has hit back at Modi and said there is a stink of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Modi’s speeches. Since the BJP’s electoral graph is plunging day by day, the RSS has started remembering its best friend, the Muslim League, Kharge said. He said the truth was that Congress’s ‘Nyay Patra’ (document of justice) reflected the hopes and aspirations of 140 crore people of India. Their combined strength will put an end to Modi’s 10 years of injustice, he said.

Taking strong exception to Modi’s objectionable remarks, Kharge said the BJP’s ideological ancestors had supported the British and the Muslim League against Indians in the freedom struggle. Everyone knows how Shyama Prasad Mookerjee formed his governments in Bengal, Sindh and the North-West Frontier Province in the 1940s in coalition with the Muslim League, the Congress chief said.

“Did Shyama Prasad Mookerjee not write to the then British Governor about how the Quit India movement of 1942 can be ‘combated’ and how the Congress should be suppressed? And for this, he said that ‘Indians have to trust the British’?,” Kharge asked. Modi-Shah and their nominated president were today spreading falsehood about the Congress manifesto, he alleged.

The Congress party has maintained that Modi is scared over the prospect of the BJP struggling to cross the 180-seat mark in the Lok Sabha polls and again resorted to the “same cliched Hindu-Muslim script”. Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi, Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate said the BJP is consistently losing ground, which is why the Prime Minister’s love for Muslim League has resurfaced. She said the Congress manifesto is being widely discussed and is a blueprint for the future of the country.

“After being in power for 10 years, when the country is at the brink of elections and the Prime Minister has to show his report card and ask for votes, he is nervous. He has once again resorted to the same cliched Hindu-Muslim script,” Shrinate said.

Shrinate said the manifesto of Congress was the voice of India based on the five pillars of justice. It has an indelible imprint of the people of the country, it has the imprint of the expectations, aspirations and challenges of the crores of people who met us during the connect Bharat Jodo Yatra and Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra, she said.

“It has the imprint of 10 years of broken spirits and the emergence of a new hope, it has the imprint of youth, it has the imprint of farmers, it has the imprint of women, it has the imprint of workers, it has the imprint of those people who are on the margins of society and we will ensure their participation and greater representation,” Shrinate said.

Shrinate claimed that the reality is that Narendra Modi’s “love for Muslim League” is not new. “These are the same people who stood with the British even during the great struggle for Independence, and who left no opportunity to create communal rift along with the Muslim League. Remember, when in 1942, on the call of Mahatma and during the presidency of Maulana Azad, the country agitated in ‘Quit India Movement’ and had vowed to do or die, Syama Prasad Mookerjee was not only running his government in Bengal, and his like-minded people in Sindh and NWFP in collaboration with the Muslim League, but was also writing to the British giving advice on how to suppress this mass movement,” she said.

These people have deep affection, admiration and affiliation with the likes of the Muslim League and the British, Shrinate alleged. The reality is that ever since the Congress manifesto was released, there has been panic in the BJP ranks, she claimed, adding that another big reality is that BJP’s tally is dwindling very fast, the latest surveys show they are struggling to cross the 180-seat mark.

People also believe that the Congress walks the talk as today in Himachal Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka, where there are Congress governments, many welfare schemes are being run keeping in mind every section of the society, Shrinate said, adding that the Congress has fulfilled every guarantee. “By stealing the word guarantee, no one will listen to you, Modiji. Today the country is seeking a report on your earlier ‘jumlas’ – so don’t be distracted and get ready to pack your bags,” she said.

The Congress on April 8 raised a complaint with the Election Commission of India against Modi’s objectionable comments on its manifesto. A delegation of senior Congress leaders, including Mukul Wasnik, Salman Khurshid, Pawan Khera and Gurdeep Sappal, raised the issue with EC officials. They also discussed other issues such as the use of pictures and large cut-outs of the Prime Minister in government buildings and colleges. They demanded that these cut-outs be removed for a level playing field in the upcoming parliamentary election.

In a post on the social media platform X, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh said the party had filed two complaints against Modi. “We live in hope that the Hon’ble Commission will uphold its constitutional mandate. For our part, we will continue to pursue all avenues, political and legal, to expose this regime,” he said.

Social activist, thinker and former professor of Delhi University Shamsul Islam has also brought out the facts about an active cooperation between Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League in the public domain following Modi’s remarks. He pointed out that Modi had always described himself as Hindu nationalist and member of RSS. He proudly shares the fact that he was groomed to be a political leader by one of the two fathers of the Hindutva politics, M.S. Golwalkar and V.D. Savarkar, and given the task of establishing Hindutva polity in India after eradicating secularism.

“The pre-Independence Muslim League led by M.A. Jinnah is a favourite punching bag for him which also helps him in spreading hatred against Indian Muslims. In any election the PM takes the form of a relentless warrior against Muslim separatism,” Islam said in a widely circulated article. Modi as a leader and ideologue of Hindutva can be forgiven for indulging in blatant lies, but not as the Prime Minister of India, he said.

In any accountable democracy, Modi would have been charged for perjury and forced to step down. But in the present scenario when the regulator of Indian elections, Election Commission of India, is more an appendage of the ruling party only people of India can teach a lesson to such lies, Islam said. There was an affinity and camaraderie between Hindu Mahasabha and Muslim League on the issue of the two-nation theory.

The Hindu Mahasabha led by Savarkar entered into alliances with the Muslim League in order to break the united freedom struggle, specially, the 1942 Quit India Movement against the British rulers. While delivering Presidential address to the 24th session of Hindu Mahasabha at Cawnpore (Kanpur) in 1942, he defended hobnobbing with the Muslim League.

“It is tragedy of this nation that a person occupying Prime Minister’s office resorts to brazen lies learnt in RSS shakhas and boudhik shivirs (ideological training camps) which even Hindutva archives do not corroborate. He is betraying the honour, prestige and decorum of the office. The nation must request PM Modi that if he wants to act as a cadre of RSS he should resign from the office and take a seat in the hierarchy of RSS,” Islam said.

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