Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son and party vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday hit out at the government as well as the BJP and RSS, as they accused the Modi government of pursuing “communal and divisive politics”.
Both were addressing a convention of the Indian Youth Congress in Delhi to mark the 98th birth anniversary of former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
While Sonia Gandhi accused the government of “systematically working to dismantle the legacy of the Congress”, Rahul Gandhi accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of targeting him through his cronies and said there was no truth in the allegations levelled against him.
“I want to say one thing, Modi-ji, you have got agencies. Show your 56-inch chest. Get investigations done. If you get anything in six months, put me in jail. The muck that you are throwing at me, at my family… send me to jail if I have done any wrong,” he said to cheers from an enthusiastic gathering.
His reaction came in the wake of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s allegation regarding his nationality.
Accusing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of throwing muck at him and his family, the Congress vice president said he was not afraid of either the BJP nor its ideological mentor.
“I will fight for (the rights of) the farmers, for the labourers,” he said, adding that he would continue to expose the government’s failures.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday claimed that Rahul Gandhi had declared himself a British citizen in the registration papers of a private company in London. Swamy said Gandhi should be stripped of Indian citizenship and that he had written lettters to Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in this regard.
Rahul Gandhi cited instances from Indira Gandhi’s life, including her role in bringing together Hindus and Muslims during Partition days, and said the party had to follow in her footsteps.
“On one hand, there are people from the RSS, who pit one against the other and on the other hand is the Congress which connects people together,” he said.
He referred to the Youth Congress tributes to Indira Gandhi through the slogan of ‘Maa tujhe salaam (Mother, we salute you)’.
Rahul Gandhi spoke of the RSS and the banned Student Islamic Movement of India in the same breath, saying there were fanatics on both sides and “they are giving a bad name to all of us”.
Apparently enthused by the Congress performance in Bihar assembly elections, he said the BJP felt it would sweep the polls but the sweep happened on the other side.
Reaching out to the senior party leaders, Rahul Gandhi said the Congress needs to match experience of elder leaders with the youth’s energy and his role was to facilitate this.
Sonia Gandhi, in her speech, made a stinging attack on the Modi government and said its ideology shunned pursuit of secularism.
“Today, when we see the ruling establishment pursuing communal and divisive politics and follow policies that favour the few and the powerful, when we see their ideology that shuns secularism, tolerance and inclusion, when the spokespersons of its agenda make blatantly partisan appeals to obtain votes, Indira-ji’s values acquire even greater importance,” Sonia Gandhi said.
Sonia Gandhi also attacked the RSS, saying the “present government and its masters who exercise their control from behind the scenes, are systematically working to dismantle the legacy of the Congress, to rewrite our history, to negate all that Nehru, Indira-ji and all our leaders have achieved”.
“We will not allow them to succeed. Our party’s history is intimately linked with the history of our country,” she said.
She said the Youth Congress is the first forum through which the leaders of the future come into the Congress.
She said Indira Gandhi was dedicated to ensuring national unity while being fiercely proud and protective of its many diversities and was an “an inspiration to all of us”.
“From the heights of success to the lows of defeat, only to rise again to greater heights, her life teaches us that with courage, dedication and determination even the most difficult obstacles can be overcome,” the Congress president said.