Rahul Gandhi appeals to ‘save democracy’; Tharoor-Chandrasekhar row heats up | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

Rahul Gandhi appeals to ‘save democracy’; Tharoor-Chandrasekhar row heats up

Apr 12, 2024 08:59 AM IST

Shashi Tharoor has asked Rajeev Chandrasekhar to withdraw his statements and tender an apology, and warned the minister of legal action

In the 2019 elections, the Congress party’s NYAY scheme failed to appeal voters. It offered financial support to only 20% of the poor families, or the poorest of the poor, defying the fundamental principal that an administrator should not differentiate between people under the poverty line.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting in Bikaner on Thursday. (PTI Photo)
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi addresses a public meeting in Bikaner on Thursday. (PTI Photo)

This time, however, the manifesto expanded the concept of NYAY to offer 25 guarantees — a game-changing proposition — and pitches the Lok Sabha election as a battle for saving the democracy and the Constitution.

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‘Saving democracy’

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the upcoming Lok Sabha elections were a contest between the “poor and 22-25 billionaires” of the country, and a battle to save the country’s democracy.

At his first rally in Anupgarh in Bikaner Lok Sabha constituency, Gandhi said, “It is an election of the backwards, Dalits, tribals and the poor people in the general category.”

The biggest issue in the country today is unemployment, followed by inflation, Gandhi said. “Ask anyone. Unemployment is the biggest issue in the country. Inflation comes second. Ninety per cent people will say inflation but if you follow the media, it will seem that the most important issue is Ambani’s (son’s) wedding. (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi’s face will be seen in the media 24 hours a day. Sometimes he will go under the sea, sometimes he will be seen flying in a seaplane, sometimes he will be seen beating a thali, sometimes he will be seen asking people to show the flashlight of their mobile phones,” Gandhi said.

Gogoi hits out at the BJP

While Gandhi attacked the government from Rajasthan, Congress’ Lok Sabha candidate Gaurav Gogoi gave an interview to HT from Assam, where he said, “The BJP is using agencies like the Income Tax department and the Enforcement Directorate to blackmail and intimidate everyone, including political opponents, media houses or big corporate entities. We see the BJP extorting money from corporates through electoral bonds using coercive measures. We see TV channels whose ownership changes if they have an independent stand. It’s the same with political opponents and student activists who are sent to jail, threatened with false cases unless they switch over. I find this is as an attempt of the BJP to turn India into an authoritarian, single-party state.”

He further said, “Manipur shows the weakness of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership. I am glad that Rahul Gandhi started his recent yatra from Manipur when nobody else seems to be talking about Manipur apart from the Congress. Secondly, I find Union home minister Amit Shah’s efforts in curbing smuggling of all kinds of illegal goods from across the borders to be ineffective.”

Kalpana Soren rallies INDIA allies in Ranchi

Kalpana Soren, wife of jailed former CM Hemant Soren, has emerged as a force to reckon with in Jharkhand. While she made her debut on the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) platform at the Ramlila Ground rally on March 31, this time, she is inviting Opposition leaders for a rally in Ranchi.

The upcoming INDIA bloc rally in Ranchi on April 21 is widely seen as a result of Kalpana Soren’s push, with two opposition functionaries saying she personally invited several leaders to join the rally.

The theme of the rally would be “save democracy,” two opposition leaders said, adding that the public meeting is aimed as a “force multiplier” for the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which has suffered a setback after the arrest of Hemant Soren, its most prominent leader.

Tharoor vs Chandrasekhar battle heats up

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor responded to Union minister and BJP leader Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s defamation notice against him, asserting that he did not make any false and malicious claims against the minister, knowingly or unknowingly.

Tharoor also asked Chandrasekhar to withdraw his statements and tender an apology, and warned the minister of legal action.

“He is not responsible for any other versions of the same program or any editing, post-production changes, studio recordings of casual talks, chats or any other acts that are not intended for broadcasting… My client is not responsible for any ‘slander’ as he has not uttered any,” Tharoor’s lawyer said in a statement.

“Your client is cooking up controversies to deflect people’s attention from his shortcomings and insufficiencies and to mislead their attention to couched up controversies, in his desperate bid to cause a dent on the popularity and acceptability of my client,” it added.

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