Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday launched an offensive to isolate BJP and the Sangh parivar by drawing a secularism versus communalism battle line. Rahul first took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi by calling Swachh Bharat Abhiyan a mere “photo opportunity”, and then said the foundation of social harmony in the country has been weakened with the spreading of “poison” of communalism.
Addressing party workers at a function on the eve of the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru, Sonia said had Nehru been alive, he would have asked all Congressmen to fight “communal forces”, and become “valiant soldiers of secularism”. She said her party would fight “ideologies, institutions and individuals” who have been trying to demolish Nehru’s concept of “liberal India”.
Congress is hoping to use Nehru’s birth anniversary to rally secular forces and boost the morale of party workers. Sonia has written to leaders of all parties, barring BJP and its allies, inviting them to an international conference next week.
Both Sonia and Rahul admitted the party is passing through one of its most difficult periods. “In the 129 years of our existence, we have faced many difficulties and fought them…because we have learnt from our leaders how to face adversities,” Sonia said.
Rahul said India’s foundation was built on love and brotherhood. “But today, this foundation is being demolished. On one hand, roads are being cleaned. Everybody is getting a photo opportunity cleaning the roads, but on the other poison is being spread,” he said.
Rahul admitted Congress has committed some mistakes, but did not elaborate.
He said the government was being run by those who nurture anger and accused it of even trying to junk English. The pitch for English by Rahul has been seen as an attempt to reach out to the aspirational middle-class.