Expecting a fractured mandate in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, L. Hanumanthaiah, Congress leader and Rajya Sabha member, said that senior Congress leader M. Mallikarjun Kharge might emerge as the party candidate for Prime Ministerial post in the event that Congress did not get enough seats to form the government at the Centre. He was of the opinion that a situation might arise to form a non-BJP government at the Centre and Congress president Rahul Gandhi might not be acceptable to all post-poll coalition partners. He was addressing a media conference at the District Congress Committee office here on Tuesday.
“If Congress or UPA [United Progressive Alliance] get a clear majority, Mr. Gandhi will be the Prime Ministerial candidate. If Congress or UPA doesn’t get enough seats to form a government at the Centre, all secular parties opposed to BJP’s ideology may come forward to form a government at the Centre. If Rahul Gandhi is not acceptable to all the parties as the candidate, then Mr. Kharge would be a natural choice,” he said, appealing to the voters of Kalaburagi.
Mr. Hanumanthaiah termed the present Lok Sabha polls ‘the fight between two sets of ideologies and not between two individuals in a constituency’. “It is the battle between freedom and fear, between democracy and dictatorship, inclusiveness and exclusiveness, between a pro-people development model and a pro-corporate development model, between the mindset of upholding the Ambedkar’s Constitution and that of opposing it, and between the zeal of strengthening the Constitutional bodies and institutions and that of demolishing them. Congress has always represented the former set of thinking and BJP the latter,” he said.
Criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his pre-poll promises of 2014, the Dalit leader said that neither BJP nor Mr. Modi was talking about those promises as they did not fulfil them. “Whatever BJP promised, they did not fulfil. Whatever we promised, we delivered,” he said.
On Mr. Kharge being termed as anti-Madiga, Mr. Hanumanthaiah said that it was propaganda consciously being pushed by BJP to tarnish the image of the Congress veteran. The propaganda is being made in the background of Justice A.J. Sadashiva Commission report that recommended redistribution of reservation among the communities categorised under Scheduled Castes. “One should understand that the Sadashiva Commission was constituted during Congress rule when S.M. Krishna was Chief Minister and Mr. Kharge was second in command in the Cabinet. If he was against the issue, Mr. Kharge would have opposed the constitution of the commission itself. We, including Mr. Kharge, are not against the recommendations of the Commission,” he said.
Another Rajya Sabha member Nasir Hussein was present.