Indian Express

In Aligarh, Sonia Gandhi hardsells Cong ‘ideal of unity’, steers clear of riots

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Sonia was accompanied by Rahul as she filed her nomination from the Rae Bareli seat. Sonia Gandhi told the Aligarh audience that Congress stands for unity. 

Skipping any mention of last year’s Muzaffarnagar riots, Congress president Sonia Gandhi stuck to hard-selling the Congress government’s welfare initiatives and attacking the BJP as she addressed a rally in Aligarh on Friday.

The rally, which was held a day after BSP chief Mayawati’s impressive public meeting on the same ground, saw relatively thin crowds, and even fewer women. Taking on the BJP, Sonia said this country was at a point where there were “two paths” ahead. One, she said, was the BJP’s ideology of a country where one is known by his “religion, caste and class”. “They think  if you subscribe to their views, only then you are a patriot,” she said, adding that the Congress’s ideology was inclusive.

“We will fight for an India where our language, religion and caste do not matter, but one where we take pride in our unity amidst diversity… An India where what is important is we are Indians,” she said.

She said the BJP was trying to propagate that the Congress had done nothing for the country since independence. “You would know how much the country has progressed since 1947,” she said, throwing statistics from different sectors to make her point.

She said while it was true that the Congress had been in power for most of the time since independence, she was “proud that the party’s hard-work, sacrifices and way of thinking was behind the country’s development”.

Taking a dig at rivals without naming them, Sonia said some people were wearing “some kind of glasses” that made them blind and they felt they have the “remedy for all ills”. There was no mention of the Muzaffarnagar riots, although the two districts in western Uttar Pradesh are less than 200 km apart.

Sonia also steered clear of attacking the state’a ruling SP or Mayawati’s BSP directly, although  the latter had attacked the Congress strongly a day earlier during her rally at the same venue. Both SP and BSP support the Congress-led UPA from the outside.

Besides taking on the BJP, Sonia chose to focus on counting the government’s welfare initiatives, including legislation for Food Security, Land Acquisition and Street Vendors as well as policies for minorities. She claimed that the government had been successful in implementing the important recommendations of the Sachar Committee to a “great extent”. She emphasised on her party’s promise in the 2014 manifesto to bring in Right to Health if voted back to power.

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