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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Statement day

Updated on: 09 May,2024 07:20 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dharmendra Jore |

Pawar says Rahul is more acceptable than Morarji, Modi’s attack on ‘PM-in-waiting’ over his silence on Adani-Ambani raises more questions than answers

Lok Sabha elections 2024: Statement day

Congress leader Sam Pitroda and Sharad Pawar

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Lok Sabha elections 2024: Statement day

Dharmendra Jore Three statements sparked a frenzy on Wednesday. In an interview with a national daily, Sharad Pawar said many regional parties would move closer to the Congress and some may merge, and Rahul Gandhi's acceptance (as a PM candidate) was more than that of Morarji Desai in 1977. PM Narendra Modi asked Rahul about his silence on ‘Adani and Ambani’, and demanded to know about a ‘black money’ deal to remain silent during the election period after levelling serious allegations against the two major corporate entities. This gave the Congress an opportunity to ask Modi what had gone wrong with his friendship with the particular industrialists. It produced footage of Rahul calling out Adani, Ambani and the PM in the election campaign. The duel went on. 

On Wednesday, Rahul’s party associate Sam Pitroda came under severe attack from Modi for ‘insulting Indians based on the colour of their skin’. In a podcast, Pitroda talked about India’s unity in diversity by describing how Indians looked different (like Chinese, Africans, Whites etc), and yet remained united. Like the previous incidents involving Pitroda, the Congress distanced itself from his statement, calling it unfortunate.

Merger on cards?

Halfway through the elections, the BJP seemed to have got yet another issue to corner Gandhi, who according to Pawar’s assessment, could be the next PM, if the Opposition bloc was voted to power. “He (Rahul) enjoys substantial support within his own party—unlike (Morarji) Desai. People feel he sincerely wants to bring together like-minded people,” Pawar told Indian Express. However, on his party's merger, Pawar said NCP was no different from the Congress, and the decision, if any, would not be taken without consulting colleagues.

Some saw Pawar’s statement as a bid to bond further with the Congress, which has been generous in seat sharing with allies, especially the new ones such as Shiv Sena (UBT), this election. Some said the veteran has had the idea of merger on his mind for a long time, and hence was testing the waters before taking a dip. Some said the statement had given a further push to the PM’s ‘Mission Rahul’s Demolition’, because the aftereffects were seen in Modi’s rally speech later in the day. It cemented the foundation for Rahul versus Modi battle further.

Raising questions

Modi’s inquiry on Rahul's silence on Adani and Ambani made big news on Wednesday. Because, in his attempt to corner Rahul, the PM also put Adani and Ambani in the dock, seeking answers about the financial deal to buy the Congress leader’s silence. The Congress said Rahul had mentioned Adani 103 times and Ambani over 30 times since April 2024. 

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said the PM’s attack on his ‘friends’ after three rounds of polling was an indication that Modi’s throne was shaking. Some Opposition leaders asked the PM to institute an inquiry by Central agencies if he had any evidence to prove the deal. Modi’s attack on ‘PM-in-waiting’ over the Adani-Ambani row has raised more questions than answers.  

Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore

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