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On Rahul Gandhi’s ‘I am Congress’ tweet, BJP’s comeback

Soon after Congress president tweeted that his party abides by inclusive principles, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra insists that Gandhi is trying to create communal divisions ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2018 15:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Sambit Patra,Muslim party row,Rahul Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi tweeted that Congress was a party that aims to embrace everybody regardless of religion, caste or beliefs.(Vipin Kumar/HT File Photo)

The BJP on Tuesday rejected an assertion by Congress president Rahul Gandhi that his organisation abides by inclusive principles, insisting that the latter’s statement at a recent meeting of Islamic scholars was proof that the party was bent on championing the Muslim community.

“Spreading the message that it is a party for Muslims is a deliberate conspiracy by the Congress,” said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra soon after Gandhi put up a Twitter post stating that his was a party that aims to embrace everybody regardless of religion, caste or beliefs. He also termed the Congress president’s tweet as a “confession” that his party belonged to Muslims.

A tweet posted by Gandhi earlier in the day read: “I stand with the last person in the line. The exploited, marginalised and the persecuted. Their religion, caste or beliefs matter little to me. I seek out those in pain and embrace them. I erase hatred and fear. I love all living beings. I am the Congress.”

Patra, in his response, alleged that the Congress has done little for the people in all the years it governed the country since Independence. “For 60 years, the Congress only played politics and gave nothing to the last person in the line,” he said, picking a phrase from the Congress president’s post. He also claimed that there was “competition” between All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen chief Asaduddin Owaisi and Gandhi over who will play politics as per the ideology of Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

“Rahul Gandhi said in his tweet that he loves all living beings. In reality, he only loves the country’s top seat of power,” Patra added.

The controversy had erupted on June 12, when an Urdu newspaper quoted Gandhi as saying that the Congress was a “Muslim party” at a recent meeting with Islamic scholars. Soon, a number of BJP leaders - including defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Prime Minister Narendra Modi - began questioning the Congress president on his alleged assertion.

While Sitharaman accused the Congress leadership of engaging in communal politics ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Modi wondered if Gandhi cared as much for Muslim womenfolk as its men. “I have read in a newspaper that the Congress president has said that Congress is a party of Muslims, I am not surprised by this. All I want to ask is, is their party only for Muslim men or for women too?” the Prime Minister asked, referring to the government-backed triple-talaq ban.

The ruling party persisted with the attack on Monday, with human resources development minister Prakash Javadekar wondering why Gandhi was “keeping mum” on the issue. “You said openly that the Congress is a party of Muslims. Your appeasement policy had damaged the country to a great extent earlier too. The whole history of partition is also a testimony of your policy of appeasement,” he said.

The Congress has held that Gandhi was misquoted on the issue.

First Published: Jul 17, 2018 15:11 IST