The Congress on Tuesday slammed President Ram Nath Kovind for equating Jan Sangh leader Deen Dayal Upadhyay with Mahatma Gandhi and not mentioning Jawaharlal Nehru in his acceptance speech. “… equating Deen Dayal Upadhyay with Gandhiji is an insult to the nation. And also an insult to Gandhiji, martyrs and freedom fighters of the country. How can you equate the leader of just a party — that too at that time he was the leader of a non-existent party… the BJP — with Gandhiji. It is an insult. These things should not have happened in this first address,” Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad told The Indian Express.
“We were expecting that he is no more the candidate but the President of India…the President of everybody. But it is most unfortunate that in his very first address in the Central Hall… he did not mention the name of India’s first Prime Minister (Nehru).”
Azad said that Kovind mentioned names of Nehru’s colleagues, who were ministers under him. “Both home minister and law minister under him. Nehru was a freedom fighter, son of a freedom fighter… his daughter and grandson gave their lives for the country. The entire family, right from Motilal Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi… he did not mention his name. The omission was deliberate.’’
Earlier in his address, Kovind said that India’s independence was the result of efforts of thousands of patriotic freedom fighters led by Mahatma Gandhi. “Later, Sardar Patel integrated our nation. Principal architect of our Constitution Babasaheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar instilled in us the value of human dignity and of republican ethic.”
He called for the need “to sculpt a robust, high growth economy, an educated, ethical and shared community, and an egalitarian society, as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi and Deen Dayal Upadhyay ji”.