Sonia Gandhi Comes Out With All Guns Firing, “Will Not Tolerate Hate and Divisiveness”

Sonia Gandhi

NEW DELHI: The Congress party, in clearly a new thought out strategy, has decided to focus on communalism and divisiveness, making it the major plank of its opposition to the BJP. This has been evident in the last few days with Congress leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, mincing no words in blaming the BJP for increased communal tensions in the country.

Rahul Gandhi drew nationwide attention to the issue of rising communal violence by storming the well of the Lok Sabha along with slogan shouting Congress MPs. His mother, Congress President Sonia Gandhi has given further shape to this by ending the budget session of Parliament with a combative address to her MPs, quite different in tone and tenor from the sparse speech given at the beginning of the session.

She touched a second raw nerve when she accused the Modi government of “stealing our ideas” on economic policies in particular, a charge being levelled at it by advisors and supporters as well.

Sonia Gandhi used strong words while addressing the Congress parliamentarians saying, “the lesson of these ten weeks is that the BJP has nothing new to offer the country. They attacked us without principles and they are governing us without policies. Well they are welcome to steal our ideas….imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

She said that the BJP was welcome to do this, and to blame the Congress for everything it failed to do. Prices were rising hurting the common person, and this kind of blame had a short shelf life. And here she added in a carefully crafted speech, “but the moment they betray the ideas on which this nation was built; the moment they pursue the politics of division and hatred; the moment they try to behave dictatorially inside or outside this temple of Indian democracy--the moment they do any of these things, we will stand up and fight them.”

Asserting that her party remained committed to the “nationalist struggle and the principles of democracy, pluralism and social justice” the Congress president named the BJP to say, “since the BJP has come to power they have been an alarming increase in number of incidents of communal violence.” She referred to UP, Maharashtra and Haryana specifically as well as “the atrocious behaviour of some BJP legislators and the unacceptable views expressed by others in complete disregard of our time honoured secular traditions and constitutional propriety.”

Sonia Gandhi said that there was a great deal of concern in the country, amongst all sections of society, whether the BJP and its “sister organisations” were going to work for all, or would divide the country on sectarian lines. “In my mind I have no doubt about the answer,” she said.

There has been considerable pressure on the Nehru-Gandhi family to lead from the front, after the debacle in the Lok Sabha. Sonia Gandhi’s strong speech follows efforts by scion Rahul Gandhi to move out of hibernation mode and raise issues in Parliament. The agitational program of the Congress, in one sense, was established when he joined his slogan shouting party MPs in the well of the Lok Sabha over rising communal violence in the country. A recognised backbencher he surprised all those in the House by joining the raucous protest.

Sources said that the Congress had decided to focus on the communal divisiveness that was being encouraged on the ground with violence breaking out in states going to the polls. The Citizen has been the only independent daily to report these in detail. The Congress party leaders have been directed by Sonia Gandhi to be vigilant and work accordingly in their constituencies. However, it remains to be seen to what extent this is successful in Maharashtra and Haryana, two states where the record of the Congress legislators on the secularism front has not been exemplary either.