NEW DELHI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday again accused the BJP and RSS of spreading hatred and violence in the country and said that neither Prime Minister Narendra Modi, nor home minister Amit Shah or national security adviser Ajit Doval can understand the pain these cause to people.
He also asserted that the objective of his just-ended “Bharat Jodo Yatra” was to save the country’s liberal and secular ethos which was under the attack of the BJP and RSS.
“Is it difficult to understand someone’s pain if you yourself have not gone through that pain. Modiji, Amit Shah or (Ajit) Doval cannot understand it. I understand what violence can do because I have seen and endured it. The people of Kashmir know it. The families of Army and CRPF personnel understand it. We know how it hurts, not you,” he said, while addressing a public meeting here to mark the “happy and successful ending” of his BYJ that began from Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7 last year.
He recalled how painful and upsetting it was for him when he had received a phone call when he was just 14 years old and attending geography class at school informing him about the assassination of his grandmother in October 1984, and then again that of his father on May 21, 1991, when he was in the United States. “I know, my sister Priyanka (Gandhi) knows, the people of Kashmir, the families of the CRPF and the Army personnel, the children of soldiers who laid down their lives in the Pulwama attack know what such phone calls are all about. Modi, Amit Shah, Ajit Doval and the RSS people who promote violence cannot comprehend it. They cannot understand the pain such phone calls do cause,” he said.
He said the “lakshya” (objective) of the BJY was to put a stop to people receiving such phone calls. “Yesterday (Sunday) a journalist asked me what was the lakshya of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. I did not answer him but decided to say it here today at this public meeting that the objective of this yatra is: such calls should stop coming to your phones. No child, no son, no mother should receive such phone calls. My aim is to put a halt to these phone calls.”
The Congress leader said that the very foundation of India and the core values of its composite culture are under attack by the BJP and RSS. “I decided to take out the Bharat Jodo Yatra not for myself or the Congress Party but for the people of this country and to save this idea of India, the secular and liberal ethos of the country,” he said. He added, “I am being attacked and abused by the BJP and RSS people, but I do not mind it, rather I am grateful to them in a way.”
Like Mr Gandhi, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also braved the heavy snowfall and accompanying chill to address the rally. Mr Kharge reiterated that the Bharat Jodo Yatra was not for winning elections but to counter the hate spread by the BJP and RSS. “The yatra was not for winning elections but against hate. BJP people are spreading hate in the country. Rahul Gandhi has proven that he can unite the country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir on issues like unemployment and inflation,” Mr Kharge said at the rally.
Asking the people of the country to join hands and rise against those who try to break the foundation of India, Mr Gandhi said: “Let us do it with love, not hatred because we do not want to do it by fighting with them but in such a peaceful and amiable way that we are able to take it out of their hearts.”
He asserted: “Our way should be the way of India, the approach of love, respect and brotherhood and, as I have said it before, I opened a shop of love in the bazar of hatred when I began Bharat Jodo Yatra. We must open such shops everywhere in this country.”
Mr Gandhi said that on entering J&K earlier this month he was cautioned by security forces’ officials that he might have walked distances on foot during his BJY elsewhere in the country but here, particularly in the Kashmir Valley, he should use a vehicle during the last four days of his unity march. “I think they were scaring me when they told me a grenade would be thrown at me. I thought since I am returning to my home and my roots, let me walk with my people and let those who hate me be given a chance to change the colour of my white T-shirt to red. That because what my family believes in, and Mahatma Gandhi has elucidated it, if you want to live you should live without fear.”
He said that instead of throwing a grenade at him, the people of Kashmir gave him love and respect. “They did not hurl a hand grenade at me. They loved me with open arms, they hugged me, everyone accepted me as their own flesh, children and elderly people welcomed me with misted eyes,” he said.
Mr Gandhi traced this demeanour in Kashmiriyat, the ethno-national and social consciousness and cultural values of Kashmiri people, and asserted: “It is in their blood. Similar tenets do exist and are practised in many other parts of the country as well.”...