Rahul Gandhi: Congress represented an idea which respects the liberty and dignity of everyone
Congress Vide President Rahul Gandhi, in an interview with Press Trust of India (PTI), demolished the BJP’s claims that Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had been given a clean chit. He described the ‘clean chit’ as "politically expedient" and "far too premature".
“The election is a clash between two ideas of India,” said the Congress Vice-President. Rahul Gandhi also said that the Congress represented an idea which "respects the liberty and dignity of everyone and we uphold the ideals of humanity and inclusion", whereas the BJP wanted an India "in which there is no place for the poor, no place for those with a different religion or ideology. He said that the BJP seeks "an India in which power is centralized in the hands of individuals”. "The ideas that Mr Modi represents are dangerous for India," added Rahul Gandhi.
The Congress leader demanded that Mr Modi be held legally accountable for the "clear and inexcusable failure" of governance during the 2002 Gujarat riots. Rahul Gandhi echoed what the families of those who lost their near and dear ones have been have been saying for all these years that Mr Modi was answerable on moral grounds. “There are many unanswered questions. There is a lot more the country needs to know," he reminded.
The Congress Vice President also questioned the Opposition’s definition of “strong leadership”. "Yes, I believe that India needs a 'strong' leader but we must have a deeper understanding of what 'strength' means” he said and added "Strength to me, is not brute force or the ability to bulldoze your way through decision making in an autocratic manner....I do believe that an autocratic mindset that believes in dispensing with whatever is inconvenient to its notions is dangerous because such people tend to mistake what is right for what is expedient.” Responding to Mr Modi’s digs at him, Rahul Gandhi said that it is for the people of the country to judge a politician's language and choice of words".
The Congress leader also attacked the BJP for promoting corruption. “BJP had a Karnataka Chief Minister who went to jail on charges of corruption. Convicted and charge-sheeted ministers continued to be in the Gujarat cabinet. Their (BJP's) national president was seen taking money and was convicted," he said. Though he stressed that the judicial process must be strengthened and those guilty of corruption must be punished, he said that corruption can be eliminated only by creating an institutional framework. He said that Lokpal Bill and The Whistleblowers Protection Bill had been passed and there were 5 remaining legislations that would have completed this framework.
"Since the BJP took the lead in preventing their passage, I would like to ask them to explain their double speak. They manage to lament corruption and at the same time oppose bills that will fight it," Rahul Gandhi said. On being asked about the 1984 Sikh riots Rahul Gandhi said, “The Prime Minister of the UPA has apologised and the President of the Congress party (has) expressed regrets. I share their sentiments completely.” Congress will continue to safeguard the secular ethos of our country and we will fight the elements that threaten to destroy the social fabric of India.