In a sharp attack on the Narendra Modi government, Congress president Sonia Gandhi Saturday accused it of using development as a buzzword to mask its “communal agenda”. Calling the PM’s rule “dictatorial”, Sonia also attacked the RSS by saying the outfit, which calls itself nationalist today, had supported the British during the freedom movement and was among the two outfits which had opposed Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India Movement — the other was Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Muslim League.
Addressing a gathering at the Indira Gandhi Stadium to bring the curtains down on the year-long 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Jawaharlal Nehru, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, too, was unusually scathing in his attack when he said, “Hamare pradhan mantri vikas ke baare main kahte hain….jahan jaate hain wo vikas ke naam par apni dukandaari ko chamkaane ki baatein karte hain (Our Prime Minister talks of development. Wherever he goes, he tries to promote himself in the name of development).”
Singh also spoke about the atmosphere of intolerance in the country and attempts to undermine the legacy of Nehru.
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Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi also attacked the RSS and Modi. “The people of the India are today saying that good days (acche din) have not come. Instead, one religion is being pitted against another. Young children are being burnt to death and the Prime Minister is silent. Our Prime Minister goes to England and says India is a very tolerant nation. We take everyone along… But he does not say the same thing in Indian Parliament.”
Arguing that Nehru had deep respect even for his critics, Sonia said that today, people are viciously attacked for holding different beliefs. “Simply because someone holds a different view, opposes us or disagrees with us, they cannot be branded a traitor. This is neither the way nor the idea of democracy. It is a form of dictatorship. Seeing the present atmosphere of suffocation, we are reminded of the good days when Nehru was the Prime Minister and when any citizen could speak his mann ki baat — which has nowadays been reduced to the name of a radio broadcast,” she said.
“Today, we are witnessing attempts by certain individuals and elements to whitewash their communal agenda in front of the world by hiding it behind the mask of development. Development is used as a buzzword, again and again. It is ironic that they speak of development yet fail to learn from the legacy and lessons of Nehru,” the Congress president added.
The BJP reacted sharply to the Congress attack. “The Congress is an expert in running disinformation campaign and it is so rattled by the good works of the Modi government that it has turned into a machine of lies. It has somewhat succeeded in harming India’s image globally. But we are sure that it will not succeed,” BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said.