New Delhi, Aug 13 IANS | 4 months ago

Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday asked party members to be wary of "pernicious signals of intolerance" and said there was a great deal of concern in the country, particularly among women and minorities, on whether BJP was seeking to "profit from dividing the nation on sectarian lines."

Addressing Congress members in the Central Hall in parliament, a combative Sonia Gandhi said: "The lesson of these ten weeks is that the BJP has nothing new to offer the country. They attacked us without principles and they are now governing us without policies."

She said there was a great deal of concern in the country, particularly among women and minorities, the poor, "about whether the BJP and its sister organisations mean to work for all of India's communities, or whether they seek to profit from dividing the nation on sectarian lines."

Pointing out once again the rise in communal violence in the country since the Narendra Modi government took charge in May, she said: "Already since the BJP has come to power there have been an alarming increase in number of incidents of communal violence. We have had hundreds of incidents of communal violence and rioting in Uttar Pradesh, in Maharashtra and a number of other States.

"In addition, there have been other subtle but pernicious signals of intolerance.... you are all aware of the atrocious behaviour of some BJP legislators and the unacceptable views expressed by others in complete disregard of our time-honoured secular traditions and constitutional propriety," Gandhi said, addressing the Congress MPs, which included former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Further taking on the government, Gandhi said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been paying the Congress party a "tribute of imitating and extending, if not strengthening, a number of Congress programmes and initiatives that they had vehemently attacked when they were in opposition.

"The new government now supports the proposed Goods and Services Tax, sugar subsidies, railway and diesel price hikes, FDI in insurance, the Aadhaar scheme, and other key UPA budget measures, all of which they had bitterly- and, if I might add, hypocritically -- denounced, obstructed and prevented progress on when they were where we are today," she added.

Gandhi also said that the ruling party even tried to prevent a discussion on Gaza in parliament and then ended up voting at the United Nations Human Rights Council just as the UPA would have.

"They have also, finally, seen the wisdom of our government's initiative in trying to reach a land boundary agreement with Bangladesh which, you will recollect, they had refused to support last year," she added.

Noting that the Congress has been reduced in numbers to an all-time low in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi, however, said they have not been reduced "in spirit." The Congress tally in the Lok Sabha is 44, sharply down from its 206 in the 15th Lok Sabha.

She said the party will continue to play the role of a "vigilant opposition" and will "resist the authoritarian and sectarian tendencies of the new government as it tries to get its way in parliament.

"But the moment they betray the ideals on which this nation was built; the moment they pursue the politics of division and hatred; the moment they try to behave dictatorially inside or outside this temple of Indian democracy - the moment they do any of these things, we will stand up and fight them.

"The process of rebuilding and restoring the confidence of the public in the Congress Party has begun," she declared.

Gandhi said violence against women have become "rampant" and are "increasing."

"I do not need to repeat to you the growing number of rapes, sexual assaults and even killings of women that have occurred on the BJP's watch," she added.

Both Sonia and her son, Rahul Gandhi, the party vice-president, who too was present, have been attacking the government for the rising incidence of communal violence in the country.

Her speech came on a day that the Lok Sabha, at the instance of the Congress and other opposition, debated this issue.

(Posted on 13-08-2014)

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