Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, during an event at VOC College in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu on Saturday, said there has been a systematic attack on institutions during the last six years and democracy is dead in India.
Gandhi, who commenced his three-day tour of Tamil Nadu today ahead of the state’s Assembly elections which are scheduled to be held on April 6, said, “In India there is Lok Sabha, Vidhan Sabha, panchayats, judiciary and a free press. These institutions together hold the nation in place. Over the last six years, we’ve seen a systematic attack on all these institutions.”
“Democracy does not die with a bang, it dies slowly. I am sad to tell you that democracy is dead in India. It is dead because one organisation, the RSS, has combined with huge finances to penetrate and disturb and destroy our institutional balance,” said Gandhi, who was earlier given a rousing reception by people in Thoothukudi as he landed at the Thoothukudi airport in the morning.
He said the death of democracy is evident through “misuse of sedition law and the killing and threatening of people”, adding that “the problem is the concentration of capital has combined with organisation of RSS and destroyed the institutional balance in the country”.
Gandhi said that destroying the institutional balance also led to destroying the negotiation between the states. “If all the states do not have equal say, then the power balance between those states is destroyed and that is a serious problem for any country. This is what we are facing,” he said.
Gandhi added that the popular mandate has been taken away from Congress in many states. “If we look at MP, and attempts in Rajasthan, Goa, Jharkhand, Puducherry, Arunachal, these are all Congress governments where people gave the mandate to us and concentration of capital took the mandate away from us.”
“I know the amount of money that was thrown at MLAs in M.P., Rajasthan, we’re talking massive amounts of money…Today, if the Congress party wants to win an election, the only way to win is if we have 2/3rd majority. If we win by 10-15 seats, it’s not a win. It’s a loss because BJP comes, buys the people and has its own govt…We should absolutely have laws that don’t allow MLAs to move but first we need a functioning Parliament, we need a judiciary that is not penetrated by the RSS and BJP, a press that raises this issue.”
Gandhi elaborated that India was entering a phase akin to the fight against the British sans the institutional support. “…we can only rely on the people of the country”, he said.
He added, “On one side, you have capture of all institutions, monopoly on finance and media. On the other side, you have political parties that are not allowed to compete. When they form governments against all odds, their mandates are taken away from them.”
“We have seen examples of judges taking decisions that the government wants and then they are given plump posts. I think at a minimum we should have a cooling-off period of a certain amount of year where judges cannot be given these types of posts.
Speaking up on CAA which had led to several protests in 2019, Gandhi said that CAA is discriminatory on many counts. He added that RSS and BJP were “spearheading a full-scale assault on India’s secularism”, which in turn is an attack on the country’s culture and history. “It is very important that it is stopped in its tracks”, he said.
Targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the Sino-India border stand-off, Gandhi charged Modi with being ‘scared’ of China and compromising the country’s interests. “Essentially the Chinese occupied certain strategic areas in our country. They first tested the idea in Dokhlam. They tested the idea to see how would India react and they noticed India did not react. And then they carried out the idea again in Ladakh and also I believe in Arunachal Pradesh,” he said.
Reiterating his ‘hum do hamare do’ jibe at the Centre, Gandhi said that Modi’s first reaction to the Chinese incursions was “that nobody has come into India. That indicated to the Chinese that the Prime Minister of India is scared of them. That is the message he indicated to the Chinese, that he is scared of them and the Chinese
understood it. And since then the Chinese have negotiated on that principle,” he said.
Gandhi added that the government under the Congress “always dealt with the Chinese without any hesitation. The Chinese understood very well that India cannot be pushed around. Even in 2013 when the Chinese entered into India, we took action that forced them, forced them to compromise…we went and occupied other spaces,” he said.
Following the event, Rahul then proceeded to Cruz Fernandez State Junction. After interacting with the people there, he met the salt pan workers at Beach Road in the district.
(With PTI inputs)
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