Stepping up his attack on the ‘ideology’ of the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP)-led Central government, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi raised questions over India’s foreign policy with China, adding that the Opposition is not allowed to raise the issue of Chinese intrusion into Indian territory in the Indian Parliament.
Gandhi, who is in London as part of a week-long visit to the UK, made the remarks during his interaction with the Indian diaspora, organised by the Indian Overseas Congress in the city, and asserted that he is not afraid of criticism against him adding that it’s a fight between courage and cowardice, and love and hatred.
Reviving his concerns over India-China relations, the 52-year-old Congress MP attacked the BJP, and said, “On the other side, we have an ideology of hatred and violence, a disrespectful ideology that attacks people because of their ideas. And you must have noticed one thing that this is in the nature of BJP and the RSS.”
Launching a fresh attack on the BJP, he said, “at the heart of their ideology is cowardice”.
Hitting on External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s remarks on China and the government not standing up to “stronger” China, he said, “If you notice the statement of the Foreign Minister, he said China is much more powerful than us. To think China is more powerful than us, how can I pick a fight with them? At the heart of the ideology is cowardice.’
Rahul Gandhi attacked VD Savarkar and his ideology. Referring to an anecdote from one of the chapters of Savarkar’s book where he allegedly expressed ‘joy’ at four-five people beating up one Muslim, Gandhi said,”If a person feels happy by beating 4-5 people, that is cowardice.”
Talking about the government’s attitude towards Opposition, the Congress leader said he had been invited to deliver a lecture at the University of Cambridge and expressed his regret that an Indian political leader is unable to similarly freely address a university in India.
“It was a nice atmosphere (at Cambridge University) and it made me think, that an Indian political leader can give a talk at Cambridge University, Harvard University but he can’t give a talk in an Indian university,” said Gandhi.
“The reason is that our government simply does not allow any idea of the Opposition, any concept of the Opposition to be discussed. The same happens in Parliament House when there are important things we need to speak about, like demonisation, GST, the fact that the Chinese are sitting inside our territory… we are not allowed to raise them in the House,” the Congress leader said.
He further claimed that the current political scenario in the country, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government, is ‘shameful’.
“It’s shameful but it’s true and this is not the India that all of us are used to. Our country is an open country, a country where we pride ourselves on our intelligence, respect each other’s opinions, listen to each other and that atmosphere has been destroyed,” he said.
Talking about his intercountry walk- the Bharat-Jodo Yatra- and criticism against him, the Congress leader said, “The more they attack me, the better that is for me, because the more I understand… It’s a fight between courage and cowardice. It’s a fight between respect and disrespect, between love and hatred. As I said during the Yatra: nafrat ke bazaar mein, hum mohabbat ki dukaan kholne aaye hain (in a market of hatred, we want to set up a shop that spreads love),”
He went on to reiterate that he was forced to undertake his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, starting down south in Kanyakumari and walking around 4,000-km all the way up to Kashmir in the north of India, because all the institutions that protect democracy and allow an expression of voice have been “captured by the BJP”.
He said his ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ was demonstrating to the whole country what “the real” India is about.
“What Indian values are? What our religions tell us? What our different languages tell us? What our different cultures tell us (that) we are one country with many, many different ideas. And we have the capability of living together harmoniously without hatred without anger without disrespect. And it’s when we do that, we are successful. And that was the message of the Yatra,” he said.
Gandhi is set to conclude his UK tour this week with an event in the House of Commons complex hosted by UK Opposition Labour Party veteran Indian-origin MP Virendra Sharma and will also address the Chatham House think tank in London on geopolitical issues.
His remarks at Cambridge University that Indian democracy is under attack and several politicians, including himself, are under surveillance, has triggered a political slugfest with the BJP accusing him of denigrating India and asking if Gandhi was working as an agent on the payroll of an agency to bring down the country.
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