Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Central government of widening economic inequality in India.

Kharge claimed that the gap has now reached a point where the “common man continues to sink in its abyss”.

The Congress chief made the remarks in reference to a recent report by the non-profit Oxfam, which said that the richest 1% of India’s population owned more than 40.5% of the country’s total wealth in 2021, while the bottom 50% of the population only accounted for around 3% of it.

In its report titled “Survival of the Richest: The India Supplement”, Oxfam said that the combined wealth of India’s 100 richest persons reached Rs 54.12 lakh crore in 2022.

The total number of billionaires also increased in India from 102 in 2020 to 142 in 2021 and 166 in 2022. In a stark contrast 22.89 crore persons live in poverty in India – the highest in the world, the report said.

On Tuesday, Kharge said that the Congress party’s Bharat Jodo Yatra is a movement to fill the gap of economic inequality, as highlighted in the report.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra began in Tamil Nadu on September 7. According to the Congress, the march is aimed at countering the politics of hatred espoused by the Bharatiya Janata Party. It is currently in Haryana.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, who is spearheading the march, said that the Bharat Jodo Yatra is the voice of people against the Modi government’s policies, which he alleged has increased poverty.

“The UPA [United Progressive Alliance] lifted more than 20 crore people out of poverty,” Gandhi said in a tweet. “PM’s [Narendra Modi] ‘increase poverty’ policies pushed them again into poverty.”