Thrissur (Kerala), Feb 4 (PTI) Kickstarting the Congress's crucial Lok Sabha poll campaign in Kerala, party President Mallikarjun Kharge on Sunday vehemently attacked the BJP-led union government, accusing it of causing indiscriminate unemployment and inflation in the country and "systematically weakening" democratic institutions.
The gap between the rich and poor is increasing day by day in the country; the rich are getting richer and the poor are becoming poorer under the Modi government, Kharge alleged.
Kharge was addressing the 'Mahajana Sabha' organised by Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee at Thekkinkadu maidan here, which was attended by representatives from 25,177 booths across the state besides party leaders and workers.
Criticising the Centre's interventions in state governance and alleged attempts to weaken the political autonomy of states, the Congress chief said it undermines the principles of federalism. He also accused the union goverment of harassing the state governments and crushing the poor people and women of the country.
"All democratic institutions are being systematically weakened. Agencies like ED, CBI Income Tax are weaponised to target opposition leaders on false and baseless charges," Kharge alleged.
Apparently referring to Modi recently addressing a women empowerment programme here last month, Kharge appealed to the women of the state to be "mindful" of the BJP's tactics.
The saffron party's ideology is against women and they don't follow what the Constitution says, he cautioned them.
"To my sisters, I would say please be mindful of the tactics of BJP (leaders), who come here and seek your votes in the name of religion, caste and creed...When BJP people come to seek votes, ask them about the BJP MLA involved in a crime against a woman in UP," he said.
Citing last year's protest by the champion women wrestlers of the country, he said instead of saving the Olympic medal winning wrestlers, the government was "busy saving the party MP (who the wrestlers accused of sexual harassment)".
The country records 51 cases of crimes against women every hour. However, the government protects the people who are accused of crimes against women, SC/ST and other weaker sections of the society, the Congress chief further alleged.
Kharge in his speech illustrated the contrast between the policies of Jawaharlal Nehru and Modi, saying while the first prime minister set up public sector units, the incumbent was "dismantling" them.
He said Nehru envisaged a mixed economy as the model for India, and pointed out that the PSUs provided secure employment for millions of people across the country, including reserved categories and other weaker sections.
"However, we are seeing that the Modi government focuses only on one sector which is the private sector. They have ignored all other sectors and allowed them to die a slow death," he alleged.
"The Modi government has decided to completely dismantle the public sector and provide support to only the private sector and that too a select few of his (Modi's) friends," the Congress chief further alleged. "He has planned to hand over every last brick of public sector industries to a few rich industrialist friends of his own." Continuing to attack the BJP-led regime, he said the prevailing inflation and unemployment have completely destroyed the poor, lower middle-class and middle class of the country.
Stressing that the Congress's vision focuses on job creation, he said that unlike the policies of the Modi government, the grand old party's approach ensures inclusive development and prioritises the well-being of the people.
Addressing the hundreds of party workers gathered in Thrissur, where the Christian community has a significant presence, Kharge raised the issue of Manipur violence and said the rape and atrocities committed in the northeastern state have left the country "ashamed".
Even after nine months of ongoing violence in Manipur, the BJP government has remained an "utter failure" in defusing the situation and establishing an atmosphere of stability in the country, he said.
"Why Modi has not gone to Manipur? When Rahul Gandhi, a man who is elected from Kerala, can go to Manipur, why not Modi? This is the concern for the country," he said.
Vehemently criticising Modi, he said the PM has the time to tour the entire country, address election rallies, and give speeches every other day but couldn't find time to visit the violence-hit state.
"He has time for vacation in Lakshadweep and gets pictures clicked. But he does not have time for people of Manipur," the Congress chief said.
Kharge stressed the need to stand united to safeguard constitutional rights and preserve democracy in the country. The Congress party and the people of India always stand by the people of Manipur, especially in times of distress, he asserted.
"It is our duty as democratic and secular citizens, including the duty of the Congress, to stand up for marginalised groups and expose the injustices they face under the current government," the leader added.
Kharge further accused the Modi government of appointing people having RSS and BJP connections in high profile posts without considering their merits. "Whether it is university chancellors, professors, directors in the public sector, or any other important post, they appoint only people with RSS background," he charged.
"We must identify and confront this threat to protect the values of democracy, justice and inclusivity," he stressed.
Urging the people of Kerala to vote for the Congress in the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, Kharge said each vote would play a major role in protecting the state's rights and interests and to save democracy and the Constitution.
"If we win Kerala, we will win india," he added.
Significantly, Kharge did not make any direct reference against the ruling CPI(M) in the state anywhere in his speech. The Congress and the CPI(M) are constituents of the INDIA bloc, which hopes to put up a united fight against the BJP in the upcoming parliamentary elections. PTI RRT LGK ANE