The Congress on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek votes on the basis of his government’s performance over the last 10 years “instead of indulging in hate speech”.

In a letter to the prime minister, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said: “Repeating a lie a thousand times will not make it the truth. The voters are intelligent enough to read and understand by themselves what the Congress has written in its manifesto and what guarantees we have promised.”

This came two days after the prime minister wrote letters to all the Bharatiya Janata Party’s candidates in the National Democratic Alliance contesting in the third phase of the Lok Sabha polls scheduled for May 7.

In the letter, Modi told the partners to “spread the word against the regressive politics of Congress and INDI alliance [INDIA bloc] including their agenda to give reservations to Muslims by snatching it from the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and Other Backward Classes”, reported Hindustan Times.

He also repeated his claims that the Congress intends to enforce an inheritance tax if it comes to power.

The Congress’ manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls does not talk about religion-based reservations for any community. It also does not contain any reference to an inheritance tax but says that the party would “address the growing inequality of wealth and income through suitable changes in policies”.

Kharge on Thursday told the prime minister that the “tone and content” of his letter to the National Democratic Alliance candidates makes it seem like there is “a lot of desperation and worry”.

“The letter makes it look like the lies in your speeches are not having the effect you intended and now you want your candidates to amplify your lies,” read Kharge’s letter addressed to Modi.

The Congress president repeated the poll promises made by his party in its manifesto and said that “every Indian – the poor, the marginalised, the women, the aspirational youth, the labour class, the Dalits and the Adivasis” are its votebanks.

“Everyone knows it is the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] and BJP who opposed reservations at every stage since 1947,” Kharge wrote. “Everyone knows it is the RSS and BJP which wants to change the Constitution to end reservation. Your leaders have openly spoken about it.”

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the parent body of the BJP.

Kharge’s remark was in reference to statements by BJP leaders who have hinted at major changes to the Constitution in the run-up to the general elections.

On March 9, BJP MP Anantkumar Hegde called on voters to ensure a two-thirds majority to his party in the Lok Sabha to enable amendments to the Constitution and undo the “unnecessary laws introduced to subjugate the Hindu community”. BJP leader Jyoti Mirdha on March 30 also said that the party needed an overwhelming majority in Parliament to change the Constitution.

On April 15, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Lallu Singh purportedly said: “The government can be formed with 272 MPs in the Lok Sabha, but to make amendments to the Constitution, or to have a new Constitution, we need more than two-thirds majority.”

Kharge told Modi that the Congress “would like to challenge you or anyone you depute to debate with us on our manifesto and the points you have made”.

“As I mentioned in my earlier letter, when the elections are over, people will only remember you as the prime minister who indulged in divisive and communal speeches filled with lies to avoid an inevitable defeat,” wrote the Congress president.

On April 25, Kharge had written to the prime minister saying that he is being misinformed by his advisors about the contents of the Congress’ manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections.

He had also requested a meeting with Modi to explain to him the Congress’ manifesto so that he does not “make false statements”.

Also read: Fact-checking five days of Narendra Modi’s speeches: A catalogue of lies