Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday asked why women are not seen in shorts in RSS shakhas, and claimed that the organisation believes that “till women remain silent, they are good”. On day two of the second leg of his Navsarjan Yatra across central Gujarat, Rahul was speaking at an interactive session with students from universities in Vadodara.
When a student spoke to Rahul about free education for girls in Gujarat being discontinued by the then Narendra Modi government, he said, “If you see the education statistics for girls, Gujarat does not feature in the top 10. This is because Modi’s words are hollow. It is in Congress nature to strengthen women and we will do it in the sector of girl’s education.”
Targeting the RSS, Rahul said, “You know who the parent organisation of the BJP is? It is the RSS. It is their thinking that till women remain silent, they are good. The moment a woman opens her mouth, they want to shut her up. Have you seen a single woman in an RSS shakha wearing shorts? I have never seen any. Why aren’t women allowed in the RSS? They (BJP) have so many women in the party, but I have not seen a single woman in the RSS. What mistake have they made?”
Later, the Gujarat unit of RSS demanded an apology from Rahul for his comment. “The inappropriate comment made by Rahul Gandhi is extremely hurtful. He should apologise,” the statement said. Calling Rahul’s statement “unintelligent”, the RSS said, “Just like RSS, a parallel organisation Rashtra Sevika Samiti is working with women since 1936 with a nationalist ideology. It is not always necessarily to stand in the same ground to achieve a common goal.”.
The Rashtriya Sevika Samiti also hit back at Rahul, saying that samiti has around 5 lakh members in the country whose headquarters is also in Nagpur. Earlier, speaking on Modi’s policies on education, Rahul said, “Modi has turned the focus of education to profit. Congress wants to bring it back to knowledge. In the last one year, the education budget has reduced by 16 per cent… Modi’s marketing is great, but there is no development in the field of education.”
Rahul also discussed the September 5 murder of journalist Gauri Lankesh. When a student asked if he thought journalists were unsafe in India, Rahul said, “Why do you think Lankesh was shot? Do you think truth can be hidden?… Journalists are being intimidated, most media houses ignored our press conference on (Amit Shah’s son) Jay Shah.”
The MP said he was trying to revive the original idea of India that promotes freedom of expression. “I would rather want that people have the right in my country to criticise the way they want, even if they are wrong… Truth cannot be suppressed.”
Comparing the present regime with the UPA government, he said, “Can you imagine this kind of violence and intimidation under Manmohan Singh? We do not believe in violence and intimidation. The Congress knows how to revive the economy with a soft approach, by including all sectors of the economy. We have done it before and it is the need of the hour.”
When he was asked why people should vote for his party, Rahul said that a Congress government would be willing to answer questions. “When we come into power in Gujarat… your leaders will listen to you. I won’t tell you only my Mann ki Baat.”