Editorial: Kharge’s Letter Needs Attention

Editorial: Kharge’s Letter Needs Attention

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Sunday, April 28, 2024, 07:35 PM IST
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Mallikarjun Kharge | File

In only a matter of days, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has written his second letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting a meeting to explain his party’s manifesto “Nyay Patra” given the misinformation and distortion that has been going around, especially from the PM on his election campaign tour. Kharge, true to his character, has refrained from being personal or attacking, but stated in the letter that he was neither shocked not surprised by the PM’s language, tenor and content in the speeches so far. Kharge’s second letter comes in the wake of vituperative attacks from the BJP, particularly the PM, alleging that the Congress manifesto aimed to “redistribute the wealth of people” and give it away to “infiltrators” besides snatching women’s “mangalsturas”.

There may be a number of points to debate about this part in the Congress manifesto but there should not be any room to spread untruths and make communal or pejorative claims about what it seeks to do. In the larger context of India’s growth and development story, the arc of which spans across the next 20-25 years, it is an important aspect. The concentration of wealth at the very top of the economic pyramid in recent years is not only ethically problematic but has severe economic consequences too by stunting the growth impetus and entrepreneurial ecosystem over time. The top one percent Indians hold 40 percent of the nation’s wealth; besides, wealth inequality has been steadily and sharply rising to make this the highest in six decades, as recent reports like the one from World Inequality Lab have shown.

This “Billionaire Raj” as it is being termed, worse than during the British Raj, will eventually threaten India’s growth story itself. From a long-term nationalistic perspective, it is essential to address this. If an opposition political party has brought into the public domain an idea to do this, then it becomes the responsibility of the ruling party to engage in a debate about it, irrespective of where it stands on the issue itself. Let the BJP, through the PM and others, critique the idea and state its problems. That would be an acceptable debate going into an election. What does not pass the democratic test is the ad hominem attacks of the kind we have seen. Kharge’s move upholds the best of democratic traditions, even during a fractious election campaign, by seeking a meeting. The ball is in the PM’s court now.

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