The twin burning issues of Dalit rights and women’s safety were at the centre of Gandhi’s all-out attack on Modi at the launch of the Congress party’s “Save the Constitution” campaign, as he asserted that constitutional values had been endangered under the Modi government and assured the people that his party would not let that happen.
Institutions such as the Supreme Court were being trampled on and Parliament had been shut down by the government, he alleged, claiming that if he was allowed to speak for 15 minutes on a host of issues, including the Nirav Modi scam, Modi would “run away”.
“This country belongs to each and every one of us. It is the duty of the Congress party to protect the Constitution, the institutions and every single one of our citizens,” he later tweeted.
Gandhi said while Modi often claimed that India’s global standing had improved under his government, the image of the country built over decades of Congress rule had “in fact taken a beating” in the last four years.
Going full throttle, he alleged that institutions were being packed with people who believed in the RSS’s ideology.
Gandhi started his address to Congress workers at the Talkatora Stadium, where the party’s year-long programme was launched, by quoting from what he described as a statement by the prime minister.
Modi saw spirituality in the sanitation work done by the Valmiki community, he said, adding, that this was the “mindset” of the prime minister.
But people know there was no place for Dalits, weaker sections of society and women in his heart, Gandhi added.
“The entire country understands that our prime minister is interested in only one thing. Modi ji has an interest in only Modi ji. How does Narendra Modi ji become the prime minister (again)? This is the only question whose answers Modi ji wants,” Gandhi said.
“May Dalits die, atrocities are inflicted on minorities, may the country burn, may women be raped, Narendra Modi is interested in only becoming the prime minister (again). He is interested in doing only those things which will make him prime minister (again),” he added.
Attacking the prime minister on employment and other promises made by him before the last Lok Sabha polls, Gandhi said Modi would now come up with new promises for votes.
Modi’s earlier slogan of ‘Beti Bechao, Beti Padhao’ (Save daughters, educate them) had become ‘Beti bachao’ (Save daughters) from the BJP and its leaders, Gandhi said in a reference to the alleged involvement of a BJP MLA in a rape case in Unnao.
Referring to International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde’s recent appeal to Modi to pay more attention to women’s safety, Gandhi said it was for the first time that an Indian prime minister had been addressed like this. “…you look at the 70 year track record, be it Jawaharlal Nehru, PV Narasimha Rao ji, Vajpayee ji, Gowda ji, take any of India’s former Prime Ministers…no one has talked to any of our prime ministers like this in 70 years,” the Congress chief said.
Latching on to reports that Modi had urged BJP MPs not to give “spice” (information) to media persons, Gandhi said, in a reference to Modi’s monthly radio programme, that the prime minister wants the country to listen only to his “Mann ki baat”.
The media, he added, will speak up in the next two or three months.“The Congress gave India its Constitution …and protected it. It created institutions. The people of the BJP and RSS will not be able to touch the Constitution, we will not let it happen. People of the country will tell Modi ji its mann ki baat in the next elections,” he added.
He asserted that only the Congress was capable of addressing problems that faced the nation, such as giving employment to the youth and protecting women. The Congress would save Dalits, minorities and women wherever they were “attacked” by the BJP, he said “You will see Congress flag protecting people there,” he added.
The Congress MP also observed that India was known across the world as a country where people co-existed speaking different languages and following different ideologies. That image had received a “big jolt” under the Modi government over the past four years, he claimed. “We need to protect it (India’s image),” he added.
He also suggested that there was a difference between the Congress and the BJP governments when it came to protecting members of the media. “You won’t be able to ask a question like you asked me. That’s the difference between them and us,” he added.
Senior Congress leaders Ahmed Patel, Motilal Vora, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge, Sushil Kumar Shinde, Ashok Gehlot, Sheila Dikshit and Congress’s SC department chairman Nitin Raut were present at the launch of the campaign which will culminate on B R Ambedkar’s birth anniversary next year.