As Prime Minister Narendra Modi continued his attack on the Congress over its promise to review AFSPA and the sedition law, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Saturday hit back, saying “a new definition of patriotism was being taught nowadays where those who reject diversity are being called patriots”.
Gandhi said it was a matter of concern that the country’s “soul was being crushed as part of a well-thought-out conspiracy”.
She alleged that the institutions which had “taken the country to great heights” were being “deliberately destroyed”. “The Modi government has spared no efforts to destroy the inclusive social fabric and the foundational architecture for people’s welfare which were put in place with much hard work in the last 65 years,” she said, addressing representatives of civil society organisations at the launch of ‘People’s Agenda – Jan Sarokar 2019’ drawn up by the Samruddha Bharat Foundation which was inaugurated by Rahul Gandhi last year. The trustees and advisors of the foundation include several Congress leaders.
Gandhi said discrimination of citizens on the basis of caste, religion and ideology was being labelled as appropriate. “In matters of food habits, dress, language and freedom of expression… it is expected of us that we tolerate the whims of some people,” she said, adding, “the Modi government is not at all willing to accept dissent”.
She said the government was looking the other way “when people are being attacked for sticking to their faith”.
“This government is not willing to fulfil its basic responsibility of enforcing the rule of law. The government is snatching away the possibilities of better livelihood from crores of people and are making such policies which to help its favourite industrialists and big businessmen prosper,” she said.
Saying that the inclusive, secular and liberal nature of the Constitution must be restored, she said, “We have to re-establish the basic freedoms and rights which are guaranteed by our Constitution. We have to reclaim those constitutional values which give every citizen the freedom to express their views,” she said.
Gandhi also recalled that the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh had worked in close cooperation with civil society. Talking about the National Advisory Council headed by her, she said several rights-based legislation were enacted by bringing together the government’s power and the work and experience of civil society.
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