TAKING STRONG exception to Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s criticism of External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s UN General Assembly (UNGA) speech, saying that the scathing attack on Pakistan was aimed at sending out a message to the ruling party’s voters in India, the BJP on Monday said the Congress has lost its right to call itself the Indian National Congress or Mahatma Gandhi’s Congress.
BJP national spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi accused the Congress and its leaders of “speaking in the same language as that of Pakistan”. Alleging that Tharoor had violated the norm that the country’s stand at the UN is not criticised domestically, Trivedi said, “How is it the Congress and its leaders always speak in the same lines as that of Pakistan? The party should clarify.”
He said a speech at UNGA is considered to be “India’s views” and it is not opposed inside the country. “Like Pakistan criticises India’s statement, Tharoor also attacked it…. Tharoor should not only apologise to the government but to the nation,” he said.
In Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday, Tharoor had said, according to PTI, “Some of the things Sushma-ji said one can fully appreciate and welcome. But some of the statements were disappointing…. We get the sense that everything is about the political environment in India. And this was a speech aimed at BJP voters and sending a message to the voters, particularly on the subject of Pakistan rather than projecting a constructive and positive image of India in the world.”
Pointing out that Tharoor’s critique of Swaraj’s speech came on the eve of Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, the BJP leader said: “Rahul Gandhi’s Congress cannot claim to be Mahatma Gandhi’s Congress…it has lost its right to call itself Indian National Congress.”
The BJP leader argued that the Congress cannot claim “whole rights” over Mahatma Gandhi, as he was called Father of the Nation and not “Father of the Congress party”, and that Sardar Patel was father of Unity of India. “As far as claiming of freedom struggle is concerned, I can say with full responsibility: other than Lala Lajpat Rai, you name a single Congress leader who had been severely injured or lost his life from the brutality of British police; who had been hanged; who had been life imprisoned — which means like Savarkar, and not for four-five years — and who had been sentenced to kala paani (Andaman),” he said.