By Rahil Nora Chopra
After Congress lost poorly in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019, the party is undergoing intense internal debate on the future of its core ideological plank of secularism, but without alienating the majority community, or appearing to be overtly pro-minority. In this context, at a Congress “Mehangai Hatao” rally to protest rising prices in Jaipur, the party’s top leader Rahul Gandhi said: “India is a country of Hindus and not Hindutvavadis.” Rahul Gandhi added: “Hindutvavadis spend their entire life in search of power. They want nothing but power and can do anything for it. They follow the path of ‘Sattagrah’ (search for power), not ‘Satyagrah’ (search for truth). This country is of Hindus, not of Hindutvavadis.” Gandhi asserted: “In Indian politics today, there is a competition between two words — ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hindutvavadi’. The two words have different meanings. I am Hindu but not a Hindutvavadi… Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu but Godse was a Hindutavadi. Mahatma Gandhi wrote ‘My Experiments with Truth’ and spent his life searching for truth. In the end, a Hindutvavadi pumped three bullets into his chest.” Gandhi said: “Since 2014, it’s the Hindutvavadis who are in power, and not Hindus. We need to oust them and bring the rule of Hindus. Who is Hindu? The one who embraces everybody fears nobody, and respects every religion, while a Hindutvavadi bows down before his fear,” he added. In the context of over a year-long farmers’ agitation and the Narendra Modi government’s decision to repeal the three farm reforms laws, Rahul Gandhi said, “When Hindu farmers stood up, Hindutvavadi said, ‘I apologise’.”
BRINDA KARAT AGREES WITH RAHUL, PLACES CAVEATS
CPI-M leader Brinda Karat said Rahul Gandhi was right in stating the differences. “The CPI-M and other Left Parties have been consistent in maintaining that ‘Hindutva’ is a political agenda of the RSS-BJP and is based on Manusmriti. But we also consider the Modi-led BJP government pro-corporate, communal and authoritarian that must be fought politically and electorally through multidimensional strategies and tactics including by raising livelihood issues, but without mixing religion and politics.
50 YEARS OF 1971: SONIA SALUTES ‘IRON LADY’ INDIRA
Congress President Sonia Gandhi, on the occasion of the golden jubilee of the Bangladesh liberation war, remembered the year 1971 and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s unparalleled leadership and asserted that she remained an inspiration to crores of Indians for her “boldness” and “resilience”. December 16 marks the day when Bangladesh was liberated from Pakistan’s rule 50 years ago. Addressing the closing ceremony of the party’s celebrations of the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, Sonia Gandhi said: “She (Indira Gandhi) continued to evoke admiration as for her fierce determination to make India self-reliant, especially in agriculture, nuclear energy and space technology, for her commitment to the cause of ecological protection, and for her sensitivity to the concerns of far-flung areas of our country and for its disadvantaged sections,” Sonia added that Indira Gandhi reached out to all political parties and public figures, wrote to presidents and prime ministers, dispatched emissaries abroad, ensured that the USSR was with India, travelled tirelessly to Western capitals and sensitised the entire world community to the cause of the people of Bangladesh with personal interviews, meetings and appeals. Sonia last year had formulated a committee chaired by former Defence minister A K Antony to plan and coordinate the party’s activities to commemorate the liberation war. The celebrations are part of the Congress’s attempts to subtly counter the nationalism plank of the BJP, reminding the country that it was Indira Gandhi who had played a key role in the break-up of Pakistan.
RAHUL, PRIYANKA REBUKE MODI FOR ERASING INDIRA FROM 1971 CELEBRATIONS
Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday, December 16, alleged that former PM Indira Gandhi, who played a pivotal role in the 1971 war, was ignored at the Vijay Diwas function held in Delhi to commemorate India’s thumping victory over Pakistan. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, too, attacked the government on the issue. “A function was held in Delhi to commemorate the Bangladesh war. However, there was no mention of (former PM) Indira Gandhi in that function. The name of the woman who took 32 bullets for this country was not there in the invitation because this government is afraid of the truth,” Rahul Gandhi said in Dehradun.
AHEAD OF UP POLLS, AKHILESH YADAV BUSY FORGING ALLIANCES
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP) would be contesting together in the state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, SP chief and former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav announced on Thursday and confirmed the pact in a tweet after a meeting with his uncle and PSP leader Shivpal Singh Yadav. “There was a meeting with the National President of PSP (Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party) and the matter of alliance was settled. The policy of taking regional parties along is continuously strengthening the SP and leading the SP and other allies to a historic victory,” the SP leader tweeted. However, no further details, significantly about seat sharing, were made public yet. The announcement came after Akhilesh Yadav interacted with Shivpal Singh Yadav in state capital Lucknow earlier in the day. The two leaders discussed the issue behind closed doors for close to 30 minutes. Akhilesh has so far announced tie-ups with Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), Mahan Dal, and Janwadi Socialist Party, which have an influence on non-Yadav OBC castes. The party has also forged an alliance with RLD, which has strong support base among the farmers and Jats in west UP.
AMIT SHAH LAUDS RAJE, BUT SAYS PARTY WOULD FIGHT UNDER MODI’S NAME
Union Home minister Amit Shah visited Jaipur for a day on to address a ‘Jan Pratinidhi Sankalp Sammelan’ and a closed-door BJP working committee meeting after attending a function associated with the Border Security Force in Jaisalmer. This was his first visit to the State after the BJP was voted out of power in the 2018 assembly polls. Significantly, former CM and BJP National Vice-President Vasundhara Raje attended the function for the first time since the 2018 defeat. However, she did not join the election campaign despite being named as one of the star campaigners; later, went on a yatra to the same region to pay obeisance at some prominent temples and meet the families of the departed party leaders. Instead of bemoaning her absence, Shah described Raje as a ‘yashaswi’ (illustrious) former Chief Minister in one of his speeches, although he declared that the party would contest the Assembly poll under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
POLITICAL CIRCLES PLEASANTLY SURPRISED BY TEJASHWI’S SUDDEN MARRIAGE
The sudden engagement and marriage of the younger son of the RJD Chief Lalu Prasad and leader of Opposition Tejashwi Yadav took every body by surprise. The family neither gave out a statement regarding the date, time or venue of the wedding that happened in Delhi nor revealed the identity of the bride. Most senior leaders were not invited. The wedding was reportedly attended by around 50 close friends and family. Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav was among the guests. Senior leaders of RJD and workers were happy but also astonished at how Tejashwi managed to keep his relationship so secret that nobody got a wind of it. The young Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leader, younger son and political heir of RJD chief Lalu Yadav, got married to Rachel Godinho on December 9. The 32-year-old is the last among nine siblings to get married. Tejashwi Yadav said that a reception will be planned in Bihar soon, and the family will finalise the date in the next two to three days. (IPA Service)