|Congress candidate Nagma campaigns in Meerut on Wednesday. (PTI)
New Delhi, March 19: A day after denying ticket to Pune strongman Suresh Kalmadi, the Congress today confronted Narendra Modi on corruption, accusing him of picking up tainted and discredited leaders to bolster his stock.
Anand Sharma, the commerce and industry minister and senior Congress spokesperson, pointed out how the BJP’s Prime Minister candidate had retained chargesheeted and even convicted ministers in his cabinet, embraced B.S. Yeddyurappa and the Reddy brothers and given ticket to tainted leaders across the country.
He said Modi’s hypocritical approach to corruption was evident in the history of the lokayukta in Gujarat as his government had fought till the Supreme Court and even filed a curative petition to upturn its order only to block an independent lokayukta.
The Congress is rattled by the BJP’s high-pitched campaign on corruption as hoardings have come up everywhere with the slogan: “Bahut hua bhrashtachar/abki baar Modi sarkar (Enough of corruption, let Modi government come now).”
In another advertisement, corruption is shown telling Indians it would quit India because Modi was coming. The Congress leadership is alarmed that the BJP was succeeding in this ploy despite its own poor record.
Sharma said at a news conference that the BJP had launched a false propaganda to malign this government instead of doing the Opposition’s duty of enforcing accountability.
“It is true the government should have stepped out and countered this falsehood much earlier. But now we are determined to expose their hypocrisy, double standard and misdeeds,” he said, reeling out the measures the UPA has taken to strengthen the legal framework against corruption and to empower people with the Right to Information.
Sharma said: “Our weak communication allowed this falsehood to grow. It was not only unfair criticism but excessive vilification, which is not good for our democracy.
“An atmosphere was created over the years that every single decision the government takes is guided by malafide intentions and vested interests. They tried to present everything as a scam through an orchestrated campaign to malign us for electoral gains.
“This is despite the fact that the Congress leadership acted on every allegation, even suspicion, while the BJP protected its corrupt. They never acted against corruption in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh and removed Yeddyurappa only after he was going to jail on court orders.”
The Congress also took objection to the BJP’s slogan of “Har Har Modi” being chanted in Varanasi. Sharma said: “Varanasi is a land of the gods. We all know people worship Lord Shiva and chant ‘Har Har Mahadev’. If BJP workers think Modi is above Lord Shiva and there is nothing wrong in saying ‘Har Har Modi’, let Kashi Vishwanath himself take note.”
Congress leaders believe this would boomerang on the BJP and are planning to raise this issue in a big way in Varanasi.
Foreign minister Salman Khurshid has compared Modi to a “nursery child” over claims that he was given a “clean chit” by a lower court in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
“I don’t know who has given Modi a clean chit. A magistrate’s court has not summoned him.... It is true.
“It’s like a nursery child getting a good grade and thinking that he has become a doctor and goes around claiming to be a PhD. How can that happen?” the Farukkhabad MP told reporters yesterday.
Khurshid’s comments came two days after Rahul Gandhi dismissed talk of a “clean chit” to Modi.
The BJP trashed Khurshid’s remarks. “What Salman Khurshid is saying… is rubbish because he is denigrating the court. What is lower and higher judiciary?” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
“Court is court and the matter was before the court and the court has given a clean chit. The SIT appointed by the Supreme Court has given a clean chit. Still they want to rake up only 2002.”