Amid growing tension between the ruling and Opposition parties, Congress president Sonia Gandhi expressed concern Wednesday over the “clouds of the politics of hatred and divisiveness that hover over the plural and egalitarian values enshrined in the Constitution” and cautioned against the “forces of darkness” that she said were trying to destroy the roots of democracy. Participating in a special debate in Lok Sabha to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Quit India movement, Sonia took a veiled jibe at the RSS for “opposing the Quit India Movement” and for not playing role in the freedom struggle.
“We will not allow the idea of India to be a prisoner to narrow-mindedness and communal ideology. Today it looks secularism and free speech are in danger. If we have to preserve freedom, we’ll have to defeat forces endangering it. We can’t and we won’t allow sectarian forces to succeed,” she said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present in Lok Sabha. Underlining the contributions of the Congress and Jawaharlal Nehru to India’s struggle for independence, Sonia said: “It seems secular, democratic and liberal values are being endangered. The public space for debate and difference of opinion is shrinking… Have the forces of darkness emerged? Is there a fear about the existence of a sense of freedom? Are attempts being made to destroy roots of democracy which is based on equality, social justice, law-based system and freedom of expression?” Sonia said.
Urging people to defeat repressive forces, she said: “We can and will not allow the idea of India to be a prisoner to narrow-mindedness, divisive and communal ideology. If we have to preserve freedom, we will have to defeat the forces endangering it. We can’t and we won’t allow sectarian forces to succeed.” “People have to fight for the India they believe in, which is loved by one and all and which was envisioned by the freedom fighters,” Sonia said.
She took a jibe at the RSS without naming the organisation. “We should not forget that there were people and organisations which had opposed the Quit India movement and had played no role in getting our country freedom,” she said. When Sonia said this, BJP MP Kirron Kher shouted: “Travesty, travesty.” But BJP leaders were seen gesturing to her to remain quiet. The Congress and the Left often accuse the RSS of playing no role in the freedom struggle while both the RSS and the BJP deny it and have been trying to highlight its icons as the national heroes.