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Sonia Gandhi says ‘Acche din’ will boomerang on Modi like India Shining on Vajpayee

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi said there was a lot of disappointment among people over the promises made by the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the 2014 elections

india Updated: Mar 09, 2018 22:44 IST
HT Correspondent, New Delhi
Sonia Gandhi,2019 Lok Sabha elections,Narendra Modi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with UPA chairperson and Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on the anniversary of the December 2001 parliament attack in New Delhi, on December 13, 2017. (Reuters Photo)

The Congress will return to power in 2019 and “Achhe Din” will be to this government what “India Shining” was to the previous NDA government (1999-2004), UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said on Friday, referring to the NDA’s surprise defeat in the 2004 parliamentary elections which paved the way for the UPA’s decade-long rule.

Speaking at the India Today Conclave in Mumbai, Gandhi lau-nched a blistering attack on PM Narendra Modi and his government, alleging the country was being led by a “regressive vision” and wondered if India was really a “giant black hole” till the BJP came to power at the Centre in May 2014, as has been claimed by the party and its supporters.

“Achhe Din will soon be India Shining,” she said. India Shining was the NDA’s platform ahead of 2004; Achhe Din was the NDA’s ahead of 2014.

In response, a BJP spokesperson hit out at Gandhi, saying India “got defamed internationally for corruption” when the UPA was in power.

“As the party president, Sonia Gandhi presided over the Congress’s decline to 44 seats and its decimation across states. And as an opposition leader, she is practising the politics of fear and deception. She has taken both the country and her own party down,” said Anil Baluni, the national head of the BJP’s media department. He added, “Democracy and institutions are safe. The Congress is in danger. She should worry about that.”

Gandhi claimed that freedom of the people was “under systematic and sustained assault” and the provocative statements from the ruling side were neither random nor accidental — the usual defence put forth for such statements — but “part of a dangerous” design.

Gandhi, 71, who demitted the Congress president’s office on December 16 last year after remaining at the helm for more than 19 years, described the current environment as one in which history is being rewritten and facts being falsified, fanning “prejudice and bigotry”.

“There is a rewriting of history, falsifying facts and fanning prejudice and bigotry,” she said.

In recent weeks, Gandhi has stepped up attacks on the Modi government, alleging that institutions such as Parliament, judiciary, media and civil society had faced systematic assault after the BJP came to power in 2014.

“Our country, our society, our freedom are now all under systematic and sustained threat… Today we are presented with an alternative and indeed regressive vision,” she said.

“Was India really a giant black hole before May 2014 and start marching to progress only four years ago? Is this not an insult to the intelligence of our people? It is not a matter of taking credit but acknowledging India’s strength,” she added.

Gandhi’s attack came a day after her son and Congress president Rahul Gandhi alleged that there exists a general atmosphere of “intimidation” in India where a“nasty form of politics” aimed at dividing people was being practised to win the elections.

Gandhi echoed that sentiment on Friday: “Alternate voices are being silenced. Freedom to think, marry according to one’s wishes is under attack. Religious tensions are being fuelled, vigilante mobs and private armies have been let loose.”

The former Congress chief said the Modi government lacked “accommodative spirit” and that has led to an ongoing stalemate in Parliament. “The opposition is not allowed to speak in Parliament. People are angry with Congress for disruptions. But there are serious reasons for it. Parliamentary rules are not followed. There is no accommodative spirit. The opposition has a right to speak in Parliament.”

She also said callous remarks about changing the Constitution were deliberate attempts to subvert the essence of India it enshrines. “Long standing principles that have stood the country well are being violated. Parliamentary majority is being interpreted as a licence to stifle debate and bulldoze legislations. Political opponents are being targeted through misuse of investigative agencies.”

First Published: Mar 09, 2018 18:20 IST