Hitting out at allegations over his nationality, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Thursday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to arrest him if he has done any wrong, and accused him of using cronies to throw “muck” at him and his family.
Addressing a convention of the Indian Youth Congress here to mark the 98th birth anniversary of late prime minister Indira Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi launched a strong counter-attack on allegations by BJP leader Subramanian Swamy over his nationality and alleged that the RSS and the BJP had been targeting his family, including his slain grandmother, father and his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi.
Sonia Gandhi also attacked the Modi government and accused it of pursuing communal and divisive politics and systematically working to dismantle the legacy of the Congress.
Former prime minister Manmohan Singh said the economic policy had no sense of direction under the Modi government.
He slammed the government for abolishing the Planning Commission, saying it was positive dynamic instrument of steering the country’s economy despite its deficiencies.
Rahul Gandhi said there was no truth in the allegations levelled against him and taunted Modi over his earlier 56-inch chest remark.
“I want to say one thing, Modi-ji, is the prime minister of the country. Different allegations are made against me but there is no truth in them. Modi-ji you have got agencies. Get investigations done. If you get anything in six months, put me in jail.”
“The muck that you get thrown at me and for years at my family through your cronies… Show your 56-inch chest, get agencies after me send me to jail if I have done any wrong,” he said to cheers from an enthusiastic gathering.
He accused both the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of throwing muck at him and his family and said he was not afraid of either the BJP nor its ideological mentor.
“I will fight for (the rights of) the farmers, for the labourers,” he said, adding that he would continue to expose the government’s “lies”.
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy on Monday claimed that Rahul Gandhi had declared himself a British citizen in the registration papers of a private company in London.
Swamy said Gandhi should be stripped of Indian citizenship and that he had written letters to Modi and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan in this regard.
Rahul Gandhi cited instances from Indira Gandhi’s life, including her role in bringing together Hindus and Muslims during Partition days, and said the party had to follow in her footsteps.
“On one hand, there are people from the RSS, who pit one against the other and on the other hand is the Congress which connects people together,” he said.
He referred to the Youth Congress’s tributes to Indira Gandhi through the slogan of “Maa tujhe salaam (Mother, we salute you)”.
Rahul Gandhi spoke of the RSS and the banned Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) in the same breath, saying there were fanatics on both sides and “they are giving a bad name to all of us”.
Apparently enthused by the Congress performance in Bihar assembly elections, he said the BJP felt it would sweep the polls but the sweep happened on the other side.
Reaching out to the senior party leaders, Rahul Gandhi said the Congress needs to match experience of elder leaders with the youth’s energy and his role was to facilitate this.
Sonia Gandhi, in her speech, made a stinging attack on the Modi government and said its ideology shunned pursuit of secularism.
“Today, when we see the ruling establishment pursuing communal and divisive politics and follow policies that favour the few and the powerful, when we see their ideology that shuns secularism, tolerance and inclusion, when the spokespersons of its agenda make blatantly partisan appeals to obtain votes, Indira-ji’s values acquire even greater importance,” Sonia Gandhi said.
Sonia Gandhi also attacked the RSS, saying the “present government and its masters who exercise their control from behind the scenes, are systematically working to dismantle the legacy of the Congress, to rewrite our history, to negate all that Nehru, Indira-ji and all our leaders have achieved”.
She said the Youth Congress is the first forum through which the leaders of the future come into the Congress.
Referring to electoral challenges faced by Indira Gandhi, she said that with courage, dedication and determination even the most difficult obstacles can be overcome.