In her first address in 2019 ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha polls, chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Sonia Gandhi on Saturday tore into the BJP on the issue of nationalism, saying people who refused to accept the diversity of India were calling themselves patriots.
Addressing People’s Agenda-Jan Sarokar 2019 in New Delhi, Sonia said the Modi Government has “destroyed the institutions” during the past five years.
“The way the soul of our nation is being trampled for the past some time through a well-planned conspiracy is a matter of great concern,” she said adding, “Regressive forces have systematically dismantled our institutions. The current Government has undermined the welfare architecture that was laid down over last 65 years.”
Sonia hit out at the BJP alleging that it does not respect diversity of India. “New definition of patriotism is being taught to us today. Those rejecting diversity are being labeled as patriots. Discrimination among our own citizen is being justified on the basis of caste, religion and ideology,” the UPA chairperson said.
The Congress leader claimed that the Manmohan Singh led UPA Government worked spearheaded policies that helped shaping the dreams and aspirations of crores of Indians.
“When the UPA was in power, under the leadership of Dr. Manmohan Singh, the Government and civil society worked together. It wasn’t an easy task, but with the support of civil society, our Government spearheaded policies that gave shape to the dreams and aspirations of crores of fellow Indians,” she said.
The UPA chairperson quoted Congress leader and country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s remarks that there is no place for convenience or comfort while creating a future. “There should be no difference in the words and actions of the Government. We have shown this before and will do it even further,” she said.
The UPA chairperson’s sharp criticism of the Modi Government has come close on the heels of a similar reference by the party veteran LK Advani. Writing in a blog recently, Advani said his party has never regarded those who disagreed with it politically as “anti-nationals” or “enemies”. Many observers viewed Advani’s blog as a message to the BJP current leadership.
On Saturday, Sonia, in a veiled reference to controversies involving alleged consumption of beef and the BJP’s strong opposition to it, said, “It is being expected of us that in the matters of food, dresses and freedom of speech, we should accept the whims of a few people. The present government is not ready to respect disagreement at all.”
“If people are assaulted for staying true to their belief, the Government turns blind eye to them. It refuses to implement the rule of law, its basic duty,” she said.
Sonia also alleged that the BJP-led Government was not ready to fulfill its duty of enforcing rule of law in the country. On the Congress’s poll promises, the UPA chairperson said if the party comes to power, a system will be developed to monitor their implementations.
“I have no doubts about the promises we have made. After our Government is formed, a system will be in place to monitor their implementation,” she said.