The Congress and the BJP engaged in a war of words over Rahul Gandhi’s address at the University of California, Berkeley in which he berated the government led by Narendra Modi for its alleged failure of implementing economic reforms and its stand on frequent attacks on liberal journalists and minorities.
“Liberal journalists being shot, people being lynched because they are Dalits, Muslims killed on suspicion of eating beef, this is new in India and damages India very badly. The politics of hate divides and polarises India making millions of people feel that the have no future in their own country. In today’s connected world, this is extremely dangerous. It isolates people and make them vulnerable to radical ideas,” said Gandhi in his address.
Soon after his address, the BJP fielded Smriti Irani, Gandhi’s rival in the 2014 Amethi election and the Information and Broadcasting minister, to put across the party’s response to the speech.
“A failed dynast today chose to speak about his failed political journeys in the United States of America,” said Irani in New Delhi.
Irani said the fact that Gandhi chose to belittle the prime minister was “not surprising but was expected.”
“But after failing to connect with the people of India, he chooses a platform of convenience to berate his political opponents. It shows the failed strategy of Rahul Gandhi. That’s he’s going to an international stage to speak about his failed political journey in a country where people didn’t accept him,” she added.
Terming Gandhi’s remarks on dynasty as an ‘anomaly’, Irani said, “The PM born to poor family is the prime minister after receiving resounding support from people of our country. The president who is born in a marginalised community today has risen through the ranks on his own merits…vice president born in the family of a farmer after years of activism is being blessed with the opportunity of leading the nation as VP” pointing out that Indian democracy gives way to merit and is not beholden by dynasty.
BJP President Amit Shah also reacted to Gandhi’s remarks saying, “Failed leaders run off to the US to lecture as no one listens to them back home.”
The Congress duly responded to BJP’s remarks accusing the party and the Centre for its ‘intolerant’ stand.
“It is the present prime minister who is guilty of insulting India on foreign soil. It is wrong to accuse Rahul Gandhi of having said anything which is belittling. It again betrays the streak of intolerance and criticism by the BJP and the present government,” Sharma said reminding the BJP that PM Modi during his first foreign visit had talked about India carrying a “begging bowl in its hand.”
Sharma said Gandhi rightly defended dynasties in the country. “When it comes to the Nehru-Gandhi family, there have been five generations in the service of the country.”
The Congress leader said Gandhi had criticised the government and the prime minister and not the nation, which is a feature of democracy and should not be objected to.