In a tweet on Monday, the Congress’s official social media handle shared a graphic of shorts resembling the RSS khaki knickers on fire, with text that read, “145 days more to go”. The party captioned the image: “To free the country from shackles of hate and undo the damage done by BJP-RSS. Step by step, we will reach our goal.”
The BJP hit back quickly, saying that it was the Congress that was “instigating violence”, “hurting nationalists”, and “lighting fires”, and that the post exposed the lies behind its Bharat Jodo Yatra.
RSS leader M Vaidya said: “They (the Congress) want to connect people to hatred. They have harboured hatred for us for a long time now. Their father and grandfather tried to stop the RSS but the RSS kept growing as we continued to get support from people.”
At a press conference, senior leader and head of the Congress’s communication wing, Jairam Ramesh, said: “Those who stoke the fires of hatred, bigotry and prejudice, must be prepared to take some things back in the same coin…The RSS and the BJP are not used to aggressive responses from the Congress…If they are aggressive, we will be double aggressive, let’s understand this”.
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma called the Congress tweet with the shorts on fire reflective of a “shameful mindset”. “Congress Party is not even hiding its true intentions. In the garb of ‘Bharat Jodo’, it is indulging in ‘Bharat Todo’. India will not forgive them for their intentions of hurting nationalists!” he tweeted.
The BJP’s I-T head, Amit Malviya, said, “The Congress has bared its fangs in just 5 days. A party that has thrived on organised violence, from Nellie to Bhagalpur, from Khairlanji to Godhra, from Hashimpura to the Sikh genocide, can never Jodo Bharat… Congress is evil. It deserves to be confined to dustbin of history.”
Party MP Prakash Javadekar tweeted: “We condemn @INCIndia for instigating violence by tweeting Old #RSS uniform, which is being burnt. This is not just the attack on patriotic @RSSorg, but this is an attack on (the) very foundation of Indian democracy.”
Saying that the Congress “ceases to be a political party with faith in constitutional means”, with Rahul Gandhi “fighting against the Indian state”, Tejasvi Surya, Bengaluru South MP and the national president of the BJP Yuva Morcha, said in a tweet: “Congress fire burnt Delhi in 1984. (Its) ecosystem burnt alive 59 karsevaks in Godhra in 2002. They have again given their ecosystem a call for violence.”
In an earlier tweet, Surya said: “The picture is symbolic of Congress politics – of lighting fires in the country. Fires they lit in the past (have) burnt them in most of India. The remaining embers in Rajasthan & Chattisgrah will also reduce to ashes very soon.”
N Ramachandar Rao, a BJP executive committee member from Telangana, said: “CONgress was neither intended nor interested to do so called Bharat Jodo Yatra. The missionary video before and now this image. Congress just wanted to show their #Hinduphobia to the world.” Earlier, the BJP had questioned Rahul’s meeting with a controversial priest during the Tamil Nadu leg of the Bharat Jodo Yatra.
C T Ravi, a national general secretary and former MLA, said, “CONgress — Burning India from the time of Nehru ! ! !”
Jitin Prasada, Congress-turned-BJP leader, said: “Political differences are natural and understandable. What sort of mindset calls for burning political opponents? This politics of negativity and hate should be condemned by all.”
In his Hindi tweet, Kapil Mishra, a former Delhi MLA, drew an analogy between the image and the Ramayana, saying: “This is what Ravana thought before setting Hanuman’s tail on fire. Later the whole of Lanka was burnt to ashes, the tail did not burn even then. Same will happen with Congress.”
National Secretary of the BJP Yuva Morcha, Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga, tweeted: “After all, Congress has agreed that it is the one that burns the country. Similarly, Congress burnt Sikhs in 1984 and Hindus in trains in 2002.”
Y Satya Kumar, a national secretary and in-charge of the Andaman and Nicobar wing of the BJP, said the image reminded him “of the 1984 Sikh genocide when Congress workers did the same – Burnt the houses, establishments and even families of our Sikh brothers. Seems their old habit to burn everything they dislike!”