Congress president Sonia Gandhi accused the government of lacking the capacity, vision and wisdom to uphold Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy on the 130th birth anniversary of the country’s first Prime Minister.
“Their language may be modern, but they seek to take India backward, not forward,” news agency PTI quoted her as saying during her speech at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML). The Congress leader called upon all to unite and speak up against the “bigotry, injustice and mismanagement” in the last six years.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s vision stood for four pillars — democratic institution-building, staunch secularism, socialist economics and a non-aligned foreign policy — and remain at the core of true India, she said.
“It is lamentable that those who are in power today are blind to this truth. They lack the capacity, the vision and the wisdom to uphold this legacy. The forces unleashed by our present rulers want to dictate to us what we can do, say or think.”
Describing Nehru as India’s “greatest son”, Gandhi said his timeless legacy and his contributions are being decried.
“Today, when we take our democracy and pluralist social fabric for granted, it is easy to forget the magnitude of contributions made by titans like Nehru and others of his time. It is easy to forget the challenges these men and women were faced with, the complexity of the questions they had to answer, and the arduous project of nation-building they embarked upon. It is their lifelong labours that have brought us to the India we recognise and cherish today,” she noted.
The Congress chief said Nehru led a country that had not just been ravaged by colonialism and Partition, but had been reduced by 1947, into one of the poorest, most exploited societies on earth.
“Indeed, under similar circumstances, in many other countries, such conditions led to the suppression of democracy in the name of unity and development. And, in its place, came the rise of authoritarian regimes that preyed on the hardships of the people for the benefit of a handful,” she said.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his tributes to the former prime minister. “Tributes to our former PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on his birth anniversary,” he posted on the micro-blogging site.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “On his birth anniversary, we remember our first PM, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehruji, a statesman, visionary, scholar, institution builder and one of the great architects of modern India”.
The government had reconstituted the NMML Society by removing Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Karan Singh as its members. The Congress has called it a petty step on part of the government and accused it of trying to undo history.
(Inputs from PTI)