Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Saturday stepped up her attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the government was using the “mask” of development to “whitewash communal agenda”, and accused the ruling coalition of tyranny for allegedly muzzling dissent.
Addressing a function to mark the culmination of year-long celebrations of Jawarharlal Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary, Sonia didn’t name the RSS but questioned the role BJP’s ideological mentor played in the freedom struggle.
“When leaders like Nehruji were fighting for our freedom, the ideological masters of today’s ruling establishment were hiding safely in their homes while some were even singing praises of their British masters,” she said to loud cheers at the jam-packed Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium.
“Not one protest march did they take out, not one resolution did they pass, not once did they raise their voices in protest.”
The Congress attack came on a day Modi lauded Nehru for his contribution in the freedom struggle. “Pandit Nehru’s life was spent in giving India freedom and leading India as the first PM. Tributes to him on his birth anniversary,” he tweeted.
The Congress has received a shot in the arm with a snowballing protest against growing intolerance targeting the government for allegedly stoking communal passions and the BJP’s rout in Bihar at the hands of an alliance stitched together by party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
An increasingly-combative Congress has recently attempted to shake off a string of electoral defeats, taking on the government over its development narrative and saying the NDA wasn’t interested in social justice.
The Congress chief too tore into the Modi regime’s “anti-poor and pro-corporate” agenda, saying development for the NDA was only helping a few industrialists get richer.
“Today some people have changed the definition of development. For them development means the right to forcibly acquire land from poor farmers. It requires the reduction of benefits given to poor wage labourers,” she said.
“Development is used as a buzzword to whitewash their communal agenda in front of the world. It is ironic that they speak of development yet fail to learn from the legacy of the man synonymous with laying the foundation of India’s growth-Nehruji.”
Rahul was particularly unsparing on Modi for his silence on incidents such as Mohammad Ikhlaq’s mob lynching over cow slaughter rumours and the killing of two Dalit children in Faridabad. “In England, the PM talks about intolerance and says his government wants to take all sections together but doesn’t speak a word in India.”
Modi’s development agenda also came in for a sharp attack from his predecessor Manmohan Singh who said the PM in his foreign visits harped on “Vikas” (Development) only to promote his “shop”. “If Vikas does not happen for scheduled castes, tribes and all sections of people, then that Vikas has no meaning,” he said.
The Congress chief also said people were viciously attacked for holding different beliefs – a reference to several BJP leaders hitting out at a number of thinkers, filmmakers, scientists and writers who have returned top government awards.
“Simply because someone holds a different view or disagrees, they cannot be branded a traitor. This is neither the way of our democracy nor a form of patriotism. It is a form of tyranny,” she said.
Without naming either organisation, she also said both the Muslim League and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh instructed followers to condemn Mahatma Gandhi’s call for Quit India movement in 1942.