Mumbai: Congress MP and former Union minister Shashi Tharoor accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “wounding” India’s soul by “unleashing forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry”. Such a climate did not prevail in the past, he said during an interaction organised here by the All India Professionals Congress (APIC), of which he is the chairman.
Referring to the barbaric rape-and-murder of an eight-year-old girl in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, Tharoor said it was inexcusable to defend the perpetrators of the ghastly crime which has caused a national outrage.
“This is done in the name of religion. No one is saying the BJP or the government run by the party is directly responsible for this. But, it has unleashed forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry.
“If they had mismanaged the economy, at least they should have protected the social fabric. But, they have wounded India’s soul,” the parliamentarian-author said.
Tharoor lashed out at the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, accusing it of indulging more in marketing and PR exercise rather than doing actual work on the ground. “Even in case of foreign policy, the government wanted to take political credit without doing anything.
“Such things may work in domestic politics but not in the foreign policy arena,” said the former UN diplomat, referring to the 2016 surgical strikes across the LoC and last year’s Doklam standoff with China.
Tharoor rejected suggestions that the Congress was engaging in “soft Hindutva” as reflected in party chief Rahul Gandhi’s temple visits during election campaigns. “It is not soft Hindutva, but an attempt to neutralise the BJP’s argument that they alone represent Hindus,” said the Lok Sabha MP from Thiruvananthapuram.
Hindutva is a political ideology of the BJP which has nothing to do with religion, he said. “Sadly, this ideology is growing in the last four years and people are getting attracted to the language and rhetoric of its proponents.”
Tharoor said the need of the hour is to strengthen democracy as there had been a “sustained attack” on the media, judiciary and bureaucracy.
Speaking of the Congress, which bagged its lowest ever seat tally in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and also faced election defeat in some states, he said the party would rebuild itself. “We are a party with conscience. We want to see businesses grow.”
Asked about the party’s internal elections and primaries to select candidates, Tharoor said Congress workers feel such polls encourage factionalism. “They say they would abide by selections of the party central leadership.”
Congress leader Milind Deora, who was also present at the interaction, admitted the party had failed to communicate with people.
“We are correcting mistakes of the past. Our narrative will be clear and lucid. But, the BJP is more of PR and less of action.
“The 2G scam was a case study in our failure to communicate that the (Congress-led UPA) government had not auctioned spectrum because it wanted to increase tele-density in rural areas,” said the former Union Minister of State for Information Technology and Communications.
He said the demonetisation exercise was carried out by the Modi government without any consultations.
“This shows the centralised approach of this government which was not the case with the UPA,” said the former Lok Sabha MP.
Chaiwala vs doodhwala: Akhilesh’s battlecry in Azamgarh
AZAMGARH: Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav coined a new battle slogan to counter Prime Minister Narendra’s chaiwala (tea seller) catchphrase.
“If PM Modi is chaiwala, then we are doodhwala. Without good milk, good tea cannot be made,” said the former Uttar Pradesh chief minister while addressing a rally at Baitholi bypass after filing his nomination from Azamgarh parliamentary constituency for the Lok Sabha election 2019 .
Targetting PM Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the SP chief said, “BJP is calling the alliance of SP, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal as Mahamilawat. And what will be the coalition of 38 parties be called?”
Ahead of the general election, SP, BSP and RLD announced their alliance on March 6. BSP is contesting on 38 seats, SP on 37 and RLD on three seats in Uttar Pradesh.
In a subtle reference to UP CM Yogi Adityanath while urging voters to remove the “dictatorial” BJP government in the state, Yadav said, “BSP, RLD and SP will hold a new history. First the chowkidar will go away from the country and then the thekedar too.”
“The BJP showed just dreams to everyone, but did not even complete the work. BJP’s talk starts with the toilet and ends there. In any case, there is no special difference between the Congress and BJP in the matter of toilets. If one digs a pit for the toilet then the other has two crates,” said the 45-year-old SP chief.
The SP chief said Azamgarh is the ‘karmabhoomi’ of ‘samajwadis’ and that the SP-BSP-RLD coaliton is an alliance of ‘mahaparivartan’ (grand change) and not ‘mahamilawat’ (adulteration) as alleged by the BJP.
Thousands of BSP supporters joined SP chief and raised slogans like
Kaam bolta hai (work speaks).
Akhilesh Yadav is seeking election Azamgarh, a seat won by his father Mulayam Singh Yadav in the 2014 general elections. The BJP has pitted Bhojpuri superstar Nirahua or Dinesh Lal Yadav against him.
Uttar Pradesh is witnessing polling during all seven phases of the election. The first and second phases were held on April 11 and April 18. The next phases are scheduled to be held on April 23, April 29, May 6, May 12 and May 19. The votes will be counted on May 23.
Hardik Patel slapped at a Gujarat rally
New Delhi : Congress leader Hardik Patel was slapped at a public meeting in Gujarat on Friday morning. Patel was slapped in Gujarats Surendernagar district during a Jan Aakrosh Sabha.
Television visuals showed Patel was slapped when he was addressing the gathering. A man could be seen walking on the stage and slap Patel from his right side. Soon, others present at the venue climbed the stage and caught hold of the man.
The man was later detained, reports said.
The incident came a day after a farmer refused to let Patels chopper land on his field. This led to the delay in Congress leaders visit to Lunawada in Gujarats Mahisagar district at the last moment.
Not going to retire; will be by Rahul’s side when he becomes PM: Deve Gowda
Bengaluru: Former prime minister and JD(S) supremo HD Deve Gowda has said that unlike BJP veteran LK Advani, he is not going to retire from active politics, and that if Rahul Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister of the country, he will be by his side.
Talking about his decision to contest the Lok Sabha polls, Deve Gowda said, “I announced three years back that I will not contest elections. There are circumstances now in which I have been forced to contest. There is nothing to hide. I have no ambition of anything but what I always said is that I am not going to retire from active politics.”
Deve Gowda is contesting from Karnataka’s Tumkur parliamentary constituency against GS Basvaraj of BJP.
When asked if he wants to retire like Advani, he replied with an emphatic ‘no’, adding, “I want to save my party first and last the office building.”
Commenting on his son and Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s statement that there is a possibility that Deve Gowda might become the Prime Minister as a consensus candidate, he said: “I am not bothered about this. My concern is Modi will come to Parliament. I have got the guts and conviction to tell it to the face of the PM. I have the courage. If Rahul Gandhi becomes the Prime Minister, I will sit by his side. It is not necessary to become the Prime Minister.”
Speaking about his commitment to the Congress, he said: “Madam Sonia Gandhi has taken the decision to support Deve Gowda even though we are a small party. Now it is my responsibility to move forward with Congress, though I do agree in some states there is no question of any coalition. But in Tamil Nadu, there is a coalition between Congress and DMK and with Sharad Pawar’s party in Maharashtra.”
Responding to accusations of saving the family rather than the party, the JD(S) chief said: “Several leaders who worked with me collectively, have left. Some people are in Congress, some in BJP. I was able to keep the party intact but suffered. I have not allowed my family members to become president of the party.”