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Congress President Kharge skips PM's speech at Red Fort, honours former leaders in a recorded message


New Delhi: As Prime Minister Narendra Modi delivered his speech on the 77th Independence Day from the historic Red Fort, a symbolic empty chair with the name of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on it served as a stark representation of his absence. The vacant chair bearing his name stood in a designated section of the Red Fort where PM Modi was addressing the nation.

The Congress party clarified that Kharge was "not feeling well," providing the reason behind his no-attendance.

Mallikarjun Kharge, through a recorded message, used this occasion to underline the significant contributions of past Prime Ministers to India's journey of progress. It was a tribute to the luminaries of India's freedom movement, including Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Maulana Azad, Rajendra Prasad, Sarojini Naidu, and BR Ambedkar.

In addition to these stalwarts, he also highlighted the roles of India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and other Congress-affiliated Prime Ministers like Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narasimha Rao, and Manmohan Singh. The message also mentioned BJP's iconic leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Taking a subtle dig at the prevailing narrative, Kharge underscored the collective contributions of all Prime Ministers to the nation's progress. He refuted claims that India's advancements were solely achieved in recent years. "Today some people try to say that India has seen progress only in the past few years," he commented.

The Congress president acknowledged the diverse spectrum of leadership, stating, "Along with Atal Bihari Vajpayee, all PMs thought about the nation and took many steps for development." He expressed concern over the current state of democracy, autonomy, and constitutional institutions, asserting that they are encountering serious threats. His message highlighted issues like opposition voices being stifled, investigative agencies' actions, and the weakening of the Election Commission.

Drawing attention to historical initiatives, Kharge listed significant achievements, such as the establishment of the Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, AIIMS, and advancements in space research. He emphasised Jawaharlal Nehru's role in promoting art, culture, and literature in post-independence India.

The Congress leader's message also underscored the policies of leaders like Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi, which contributed to India's self-reliance. He invoked Prime Minister Modi's own slogan, saying, "The policies of Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi helped India become atma nirbhar (self-reliant)."

In an introspective tone, Kharge criticised the approach of erasing past history to create new narratives. He highlighted the renaming of schemes and infrastructure projects and expressed concerns about democratic principles being undermined. He questioned the motives behind renaming established laws and policies.

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