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Kharge slams Modi for 'luring' Thackeray, Pawar into NDA

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Patna, May 11 (PTI) Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Saturday lambasted Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "luring" Maharashtra satraps Uddhav Thackeray and Sharad Pawar into the BJP-led NDA.

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Kharge, addressing a press conference here, also claimed that it will be "extremely difficult" for Modi to form the next government in the country.

"In Nandurbar, Modi said Thackeray and Pawar should cross over and all their wishes will be fulfilled. He said it would be better than dying with the Congress. Does a prime minister speak such language?” Kharge said.

The PM had made the remark referring to a statement by Pawar, the founder of the NCP, who had predicted that many smaller parties opposed to the BJP would come close to the Congress, and some may even "merge".

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The Congress chief also claimed that Modi has lost his earlier spark, citing absence of the characteristic "bluster (‘abhiman’) and pride (‘garv’)" at the PM's rally in Telangana the day before.

"I, too, was in Telangana and adjoining Andhra Pradesh on the same day,” stressed Kharge, who spoke in presence of senior party colleagues Meira Kumar and Mohan Prakash, besides Bihar allies Dipankar Bhattacharya of the CPI (ML) L and Manoj Jha (RJD).

“After three phases of Lok Sabha polls, I can safely say it is going to be extremely difficult for Modi to become the PM again - a reason why he has given up speaking about achievements of his 10 years in power and is trying to create a Hindu-Muslim divide,” Kharge alleged.

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He said that there was “tremendous public anger” against the ruling dispensation at the Centre, which has been unable to tackle unemployment and "unbearable inflation".

"Modi, on his part, has been wary of speaking on inflation, and even on unemployment, despite famously promising two crore jobs per year. For 10 years, he has focused all his energies on harassing political opponents through agencies like ED and CBI. Hence, he has no achievements to speak of and is taking recourse to creating a Hindu-Muslim divide. But, people can see through the ploy,” he said.

Kharge asserted that the "INDIA bloc will form the next government", but ducked queries on who would get the top job if the opposition coalition came to power.

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Responding to a query on Sam Pitroda, the AICC chief said, "He resigned on his own (as head of the party's overseas wing). I hope the chapter would be closed and the controversy would be over.” He slammed the BJP for digging up old videos of former Union minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, who has "apologised for these very statements (on Pakistan), made long ago".

Speaking at the same press conference, Dipankar Bhattacharya said the release of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on bail was "of great significance for Indian democracy and would impact the remaining four phases of the general elections".

The Left leader also rued that the Election Commission "has failed to ensure the model code of conduct was not violated, with no less a person than the prime minister giving speeches with religious overtones". PTI ANW NAC RBT

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