2024 LS polls: Kharge calls for opposition unity, tight-lipped over PM candidate

DMK President and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin with opposition leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Farooq Abdullah, Akhilesh Yadav, Tejashwi Yadav and DMK senior leaders at a public meeting as part of the TN CM's 70th Bithrday celebrations in Chennai on Wednesday. Photo: PTI

Chennai: Calling for opposition unity ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Wednesday said the primary objective of the opposition should be to put up a united fight against "divisive forces" and said the issue of a PM candidate of such a bloc was "not the question".

Kharge's comments comes days after Congress had in its 85th Plenary in Nava Raipur asserted it was the only party that can provide capable and decisive leadership to the country, but was ready to make sacrifices to defeat the BJP-led NDA and would go all out to identify, mobilise and align like-minded secular forces to achieve its goal.

In his address at a DMK event to mark the 70th birthday of its party president and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin, Kharge lashed out at the BJP, alleging it was attempting to polarise for electoral gains.

His remarks on a Prime Ministerial candidate came after Jammu and Kashmir National Conference veteran, Farooq Abdullah said the first priority for the opposition was to win the 2024 polls and that "let us forget who is going to become the Prime Minister."

Incidentally, earlier in the day, the former chief minister had backed Stalin as a PM candidate of the opposition grouping.

Kharge said today the country was going through difficult times, with more than 23 crore people being 'pushed' below poverty line due to the failure of the Central BJP government.

The common man was hit by inflation and unemployment "but the BJP is only interested in polarising the society to win elections."

"We have seen such attempts in Tamil Nadu also but Tamil Nadu will not yield even one inch to BJP. I know their philosophy, their commitment," he said.

He alleged Constitutional authorities were being reduced to talking like BJP spokespersons.

"It is not about one Governor in one state; it is happening in every state where the opposition is in power," he said in an apparent reference to the governor-government spat in non-BJP ruled states.

He alleged the BJP wanted "to take over the judiciary, the Election Commission and every institution in the country."

The ultimate aim of the BJP was to "change the Constitution" and many party leaders and MPs have said this "openly."

"All like minded-opposition parties must come together in this fight against divisive forces. That is our desire. I never said who will lead, who will become the Prime Minister. Farooq Saab, I am telling you--we are not telling who will lead or who is not going to lead; that is not the question. We want to fight together unitedly. That is our desire," Kharge told the NC leader during his address.

"That is why we have sacrificed many times in the name of secularism, in the name of liberty, in the name of freedom of expression. That we have done and showed, and we have also lost many times," he added.

In the plenary on Saturday, Congress had said it was willing to forge a viable alternative by aligning with like-minded parties and regional outfits that agree with its ideology to get rid of the "anti-people and undemocratic" BJP government in the general elections.

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