Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused the Narendra Modi government of holding photo opportunities with its Clean India campaign while ignoring the communal hatred being propagated by groups affiliated to the BJP.
“Photo ops being organised with brooms in hand and walls being whitewashed while the poison of communalism is being spread,” Gandhi said in his address to Congress workers at New Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium, where the Delhi unit of the party is holding a two-day conference on Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy. The 125th birth anniversary of independent India’s first Prime Minister falls on November 14.
“Only love can overcome anger and hatred. And only one organisation can fight communalism, and it is Congress,” he said, adding, “I am not saying the Congress has not made mistakes. But our ideals have never changed.”
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also attended the conference, for which the party did not invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose government has been accused of appropriating the legacy of former Congress leaders, including Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
In her address, the Congress chief accused the NDA government of undermining Nehru’s legacy and ignoring his secularism and development. “There is an effort to destroy Nehru’s legacy,” Sonia said.
In further snub to Modi, the Congress has invited a host of leaders from other parties, including Trinamool Congress chief and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Janata Dal (United) leader Nitish Kumar and AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa, to the event.
“When the foundations are weak, the nation’s enemies benefit from it. The more united we are, the more prosperous we can be,” Gandhi said shortly before former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit administered a pledge taken by all the delegates on upholding Nehru’s legacy.
The Congress is also holding an international conference on November 17-18 at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan in which foreign dignitaries and delegations of political parties will reflect on Nehru’s worldview and legacy in the context of contemporary global challenges.
The guests for the conference include former Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai, South African freedom fighter Ahmed Kathrada and chief negotiator of Palestine Nabil Shaath. Political party delegations from the Communist Party of China, African National Congress, Awami League of Bangladesh and Nepali Congress are also expected.
The NDA government is in the process of winding up the Planning Commission, a symbol of Nehru’s socialist approach to economic development, and is working on privatising some public sector units set up during his reign. The Congress is also angry that Modi chose to observe Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31 as National Unity Day with much fanfare but ignored the martyrdom of former PM Indira Gandhi, who was killed by her bodyguards on that date in 1984.
Last month, Modi reconstituted a government committee for the commemoration of Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary, replacing his predecessor Manmohan Singh as its head. Congress leaders Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mallikarjun Kharge and Karan Singh were made members of the panel. Besides Sonia, A K Antony, P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal and a number of scholars and academicians from various institutions were also replaced in the government panel.