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New Delhi(PTI): Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday took to the streets and led a march of its top leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan to protest against the climate of growing intolerance in the country and accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “endorsing” incidents of hate.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Vice President Rahul Gandhi leading the leaders and parliamentarians in a march from Parliament to Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Tuesday to protest against the alleged rise in intolerance. PTI
Covering a distance of more than a kilometre from the Gandhi statue in Parliament to the Presidential estate on the Raisina Hill, Gandhi led a delegation to President Pranab Mukherjee and handed over a memorandum against “fear, intolerance and pressure tactics” orchestrated by some organisations.
“Whatever incidents are happening in the country today are part of a well thought-out strategy being adopted deliberately to divide our society,” she told reporters quoting from the memorandum given to the President.
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The Congress President said what was happening in the country was a matter of deep concern to every Indian and the President has already made clear his views on them.
“But the Prime Minister is silent. It clearly indicates that he endorses all these incidents,” said Gandhi, who was flanked by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, leaders of the party in Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad, besides Rahul Gandhi and A K Antony.
Gandhi said some outfits linked to the government and some of them part of the government are indulging in acts that are an assault on the multi-coloured culture and fundamental ideas of the society and are fuelling intolerance.
“The Congress party will fight these forces with all its strength,” she said.
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Rahul Gandhi also attacked the Prime Minister for his “silence” and said he does not believe it is necessary for him to speak on these incidents while the President and the RBI Governor have conveyed their concerns.
“The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister believe nothing is happening in the country and they feel everything is fine. This is the heart of the problem. These people believe in intolerance. Ideologically they are not tolerant. It is not a matter of just Congress party alone. It is a problem of every single Indian …and the PM does not believe in that,” he said.
Asked about Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s comment that protests against intolerance are manufactured, he said “yes, the RSS and BJP people are manufacturing these incidents. The Finance Minister feels there is nothing going on. He should go to the villages and see what is happening.”
He attacked Union Minister V K Singh saying “when two dalit children were burnt to death, he called them dogs. He should not be in the cabinet.”
“Large numbers of people have made it clear that they are unhappy with the way this government views this country,” he said.
Gandhi parried a question on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in the wake of Indira Gandhi’s assassination. The Congress delegation told the President that a “sinister campaign” was being unleashed to create social and communal tension in the country.
“It is being done with the objective of polarising society and disturbing social harmony,” the Congress said.
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The opposition party also expressed its gratitude to the President for speaking out “strongly and unequivocally against forces of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance, its memorandum said while expressing deep regret that the Prime Minister had not deemed it fit to do so.
“Worse, his council of ministers continue to harbour individuals who are contributing heavily to spreading hate and divisiveness. Congress conveys its grave concern at growing atmosphere of fear, intolerance and intimidation being deliberately created by sections of ruling establish men,” it said.
The march came against the backdrop of protests by artistes, writers and scientists over rising intolerance as reflected in the Dadri lynching, beef row and other such incidents. They also expressed their gratitude to Mukherjee for speaking out strongly and unequivocally against the force of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance.
Police barricaded the route of the march and deployed a large number of personnel. Many Congress leaders were not allowed to march towards Rashtrapati Bhavan as police allowed only a small delegation to enter it.