Two days after the Karnataka Assembly election threw up a fractured mandate and amid Congress’s accusations that the Governor and BJP are acting in violation of the Constitution, president of the Opposition party Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the “Constitution and the MLAs are on one side and the Governor is on another.” He was speaking at a gathering of Congress-elected Panchayat representatives in Raipur on the first day of his two-day trip to Chhattisgarh, where state elections are due in six months.
Referring to JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy’s allegation that the BJP was trying to poach the party’s MLA’s by offering Rs 100 crore, Rahul said, “A JD(S) leader said that 100 crores were being offered. And then they want to talk about corruption. Lets talk about Rafale, Amit Shah’s son, the gas scam, and Piyush Goyal’s company. But the press don’t want to talk about this. Why don’t you say this? They smile in response. Some of them say they feel afraid… mar denge.”
Rahul began the first speech of the day stressing the “sense of fear” among the judiciary, the media and elected MPs. “Pehli baar aapne dekha hoga ki Supreme Court ke chaar judge, press ke saamne khade hote hai aur kehte hai, janta se kehte hai, ki humein aapki zaroorat hai. Humein daraya jaa raha hai, dhamkaya jaa raha hai, hum apna kaam nahi kar paa rahe hai. Shayad ye pehli baar kisi loktantrik democratic desh mein hua hai. Dictatorships mein zaroor hota hai, Pakistan mein hua, Africa ke alag alag deshon mein hua. Kabhi koi general aa jata hai, press ko, courts ko daba deta hai.
Magar Hindustan mein, sattar saal mein ye pehli baar hua.”(For the first time you must have seen that four judges of the Supreme Court stood in front of the press, and told the people, that we need you, we are being intimidated, being threatened, we are not being able to do our work. Perhaps this is the first time in a democratic country. This happens in dictatorships. This happened in Pakistan, happened in Africa in different countries where some general comes and suppresses the courts and the press. But this has happened for the first time in 70 years in India).
He also said this is the first time a “murder accused” was the national president of BJP. “The BJP-RSS does not want Rohith Vemula to dream, for a Dalit to dream… They think a woman’s role is to cook, the role of the Dalit is to clean, and the adivasi should stay where they are.”
He also said that the BJP was “systematically dismantling one institution after the other” and weakening panchayati raj. “They are afraid of the panchayats because we know that in the 21st century, it will be the panchayats that will protect the Constitution and democracy,” he said.
At an adivasi rally in Kotmi, Rahul said Congress had given farmers and adivasis rights over their land which would ensure that it could not be taken away without gram sabha’s consent, and to ensure fair compensation. “But in Chhattisgarh, land is being snatched away from adivasis and farmers. You are under attack. But we will protect you. The Congress party will protect you,” he said.