New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday, November 2, met President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan and, reportedly, raised concerns about “rising intolerance” in a 40-minute one-on-one meeting.
Ironically, the meeting comes hours after Prime Minister Narendra Modi taunted the party on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots and said it should “stop lecturing on tolerance.”
Mrs Gandhi will also lead a delegation of Congress parliamentarians to the President’s House tomorrow to raise the pitch on a subject that is being debated following incidents like attacks on rationalists and mob killings on the suspicion of beef-eating or cow slaughter.
“Organisations and people of a particular ideology are spreading it to divide people. We are under no illusion that it is an accident. The hate, violence and petty mindedness is being unleashed as part of a pre-determined plan. We will not allow such a diabolical design to succeed… It will shake country’s foundations… We are ready to fight the battle,” Sonia Gandhi had said earlier on October 31.
Earlier today, the Congress reacted sharply to PM Modi raising the 1984 riots to attack the party, while addressing a rally in Bihar.
“Doob maro (drown in shame)… Try to remember that day in 1984 when Sikhs were being massacred in Delhi and all over India two-three days after Indira Gandhi was killed. There were serious charges against the Congress party and Congress leaders…,” PM Modi said, referring to the mob killings of Sikhs in the days after the assassination of the former Prime Minister on October 31 that year.
“And today on November 2, Congress party is lecturing on tolerance,” the PM said.
The Congress hit back raising the 2002 riots in Gujarat, the state that Mr Modi ruled for 13 years till he took charge as prime minister last year.
“Like in 2002, Modi has forgotten Raj Dharma in 2015,” said Congress spokesman Anand Sharma, invoking the phrase used by then prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.
Alleging that the Prime Minister was an “endorser of intolerance by his studied silence,” Mr Sharma said: “The Prime Minister cannot be given the certificate of excellence on this front….He is all-powerful and not that helpless.”
The “intolerance debate” has intensified over the past few weeks as writers, artists and filmmakers have returned their awards to express anger over what they believe is PM Modi’s inadequate response to attacks on freedom of speech.
In more than one speech last month, the President sent out a strong message stressing on India’s core values of tolerance and diversity.