Fight political battles without hatred, says Rahul

New Delhi: Days after he hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament generating a controversy, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said his attempt was to fight his political battles without hatred, pointing out Hinduism teaches that one can not be imprisoned by hostility.

Gandhi, who was the guest of honour at the formal launch of journalist Karan Thapar’s book “Devil’s Advocate: The Untold Story”, said he can hug a BJP leader and fight him politically, but he was not sure if he can expect the same from the BJP.

“If there is one thing that our religion teaches us it is that you absolutely can not get imprisoned by hatred. And that’s my endeavour in a little way,” he said.

Gandhi referred to the episode in the Lok Sabha during the debate on no-confidence motion last week and said BJP MPs now move “two steps back” when he comes near them.

Attacking the Modi government for a situation where “India today is coloured with “a lot of hate, a lot of anger and frustration”, he said that politicians across the political divide, including him, tend to “see the world as them or us”.

Pointing to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, who were in the audience, Gandhi said they would agree that this (‘them’ or ‘us’) was not his worldview.

“This is the design of our politics: It is confrontational and it is like a winner takes it all. But this is not how I am designed from inside and I am sure this is how many of you are designed from inside. I am sure Mr Advani would agree with the basic idea of what I am saying,” he said.

The Congress President recalled his visit to Vietnam about ten years back to see the impact of the country’s war with America and said his boatman during ride on the Mekong river happened to be a person who had fought the Americans, had injuries all over his body, had killed an American, “but he did not hate them”.

Gandhi emphasised that one can fight an opponent without hatred, which was “an active choice” that an individual makes.

Gandhi said he can disagree with Advani and have a completely different perception about the country. “I can fight him on every single inch but he does not need to hate me.

“I can actually hug him and fight him,” Gandhi said to a loud applause.

“This is very interesting how it works because now whenever I come across BJP MPs, they sort of take two steps back… Let us fight, I will take on Narendra Modiji. All my friends sitting here, we will all take on BJP and they will fight us. But we don’t need to hate them. I don’t know if I can expect the same from them,” he said.

Thapar later referred to his interview of Modi that was ended by the then Gujarat Chief Minister in about three minutes and said the leader never returned for an interview after that.

Asked what question he would like to ask Advani, Thapar said he would ask whether he would wear a suit with his name printed on the stripes, in apparent reference to Modi.

Noting he leaves for Britain every New Year, he said: “I am a great believer, that is superstitious side of me that you have to begin the new year in a civilised country. Every New Year’s Eve, I disappear from the hatred that (Rahul) Gandhi talks about,” he said.

The event was attended by several senior Congress leaders, including Karan Singh, Digvijay Singh, Ahmed Patel. CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury was also among those present.