New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of being silent on incidents of intolerance, and asked him not to learn “wrong lessons” from Pakistan, which according to him has failed as the neighbouring country’s leaders crush the voices inconvenient to them.
“India is successful because we have given our people the space to talk. We have been peaceful because we have embraced our people and let them be part of the conversation. Our greatest strength is our tolerance,” Gandhi said while taking part in a debate in the Lok Sabha on intolerance.
“They (Pakistan) have failed because their leaders crush the voices that are inconvenient to them. Their biggest weakness is their intolerance. Let us not learn wrong lessons from them,” he added.
Gandhi also asked the prime minister to start listening to the people.
“Will the prime minister start to listen to the voice of our people? Or will he stand by and watch as his colleagues trample on the voice of this country.
“Will he simply place the Constitution on an elephant and walk in front? Or will he do his job and defend what it stands for? Will he let our beautiful India continue to sing? Or does he think he can condemn our nation to silence?” Gandhi asked.
Gandhi accused Minister of State of External Affairs V.K. Singh of challenging the Constitution with his remarks on the killing of two Dalit children in Haryana.
“He called Dalit children dogs. He directly challenged the Constitution by equating Dalit children with dogs. How does the prime minister allow him to continue (in the council of ministers)?” Gandhi asked.
V.K. Singh triggered a huge row in October when he citing the example of a dog’s stoning while commenting on the burning of two Dalit children in a Haryana village. He later said he was misunderstood.
Gandhi said Modi did not speak on incidents such as the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh and the killing of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra.
“Mohd. Akhlaq was killed in cold blood because he was a Muslim. Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi are shot dead in cold blood by fanatics. The man ultimately responsible for their protection remains silent,” he said.
Gandhi also took a dig at Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for his “manufactured protest” remarks against those who returned their awards over rising intolerance.
“Do you think people like Narayanmurthy, Raghuram Rajan and P.M Bhargava have nothing better to do then to manufacture protest against you? They are saying it because they are disturbed like millions of people in this country,” Gandhi said.
“Give them the respect of trying to understand what disturbs them. Don’t brush people aside. Go and listen to them,” he urged.