In her first public appearance since her illness during a rally in Varanasi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi over demonetisation as she hailed late Prime Minister, her mother-in-law, Indira Gandhi’s legacy.
“Her sacrifice in preserving a united, diverse, egalitarian India will be remembered. All the more so at a time when, in the quest for shortcuts to greatness, we find leaders willing to undermine the very foundations of our national character,” Sonia said at an event here to mark Indira’s 100th birth anniversary.
The speech is being seen as a jibe at PM Modi who is facing Opposition ire over his decision to demonetise high-value bank notes. Her party has upped its fight against the Prime Minister and stalled two days of the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament demanding the PM’s clarification over allegations of information leaks about demonetisation.
At the same event, President Pranab Mukherjee, delivering the Indira Gandhi Centennial Lecture, mentioned what Indira Gandhi felt about the role of the Opposition party.
“The Opposition has a role to oppose, to expose (the government).” He steered clear of any political context.
Mukherjee dwelled on his memories of working with Indira and narrated important events of her political life. He said that the lessons to learn from her life are how to turn every defeat into a stepping stone of success. “There is perhaps no one who loved India and worked for her glory as vigorously as did Indiraji,” Mukherjee said.
Many in the party, drew inspiration from Indira’s quotes amid signs of a lingering battle against the government.
“The voice that we heard from Rashtrapati Bhavan gave a lesson: be brave,” said Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar in his vote of thanks.
Sonia Gandhi also hailed her mother-in-law. “Indira Gandhi was not a figure of history for me, she was my mother-in-law, lived under the same roof, shared joys and sorrows.”
Her speech was also a message to the current regime. “She had a vision for India in the world of the twenty-first century, but it was not a soulless vision that came at the cost of our pluralist diversity. She saw an India that would not follow blindly the path laid by the West,” Gandhi said, echoing the oft-traded Congress charges against the Prime Minister.
On Indira Gandhi’s 100th birth anniversary, the event at Vigyan Bhavan marked a series of programmes for the next one year.