A day after Congress president Rahul Gandhi took a sharp dig at the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), another senior Congress leader mounted an offensive against it.
Mallikarjun Kharge, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha, on Wednesday said “the RSS’s philosophy is like poison for the nation, the society, and the Dalits.” “Our (Congress’s) fight is not against Modi (PM Narendra Modi), but against the RSS ideology, which he is promoting,” he said.
Kharge, who is also the All India Congress Committee’s Maharashtra incharge, was interacting with mediapersons following a two-day interaction with party leaders and office bearers in the BJP-ruled state, where strategies for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls were discussed.
Following country-wide raids and arrests of prominent activists for alleged Maoist links, Rahul Gandhi had on Tuesday tweeted: “There is only place for one NGO in India and it’s called the RSS. Shut down all other NGOs. Jail all activists and shoot those that complain. Welcome to the new India.”
The Congress president has been one of the sharpest critics of the RSS in recent times. He had earlier said that RSS’s idea was “similar to the idea of the Muslim brotherhood in the Arab world”, provoking a furious response from the BJP.
The Congress’s heightened offensive against the RSS also comes at a time when certain news reports have suggested that the RSS had plans to invite Rahul Gandhi to a lecture series it was to hold in Delhi in September.
But Kharge indicated that the Congress president would not go for the event even if he was invited. “Aise logon se joodna naahin chahiye. (We should not bond with such people),” he said, adding, “If the Congress president asks me, I’ll tell him not to go for any such event.”
In the wake of the arrests of the countrywide activists, Kharge also fired a salvo at Modi. “The Centre is not doing what it should be doing in public interest. Human rights are being crushed. If people talk about it, they are threatened and arrested. This is undeclared emergency. There is no freedom of speech,” he said.
Kharge also claimed that the BJP was using diversionary tactics to hide from the failures of the Modi government. “Modi sarkar kehti ek hain, karti doosra. (Modi government says one thing, does the opposite),” he said.
Meanwhile, in the run-up to the 2019 polls, Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan announced that the party would embark on a ‘Sangharsh’ yatra across the state from Thursday onwards. The first leg of the yatra will commence from Kolhapur, and involve districts in Western Maharashtra.
Chavan said the Congress was all for a “respectable” alliance with all secular forces. He, however, clarified that seat-sharing discussions between the Congress and the Sharad Pawar-led Nationalist Congress Party were yet to take place. “In all probability, we shall hold these talks after the first leg of our yatra ends on September 8,” he said.