Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Monday that the Narendra Modi-led government was doing what India’s enemies could not do – stall the progress of the country. He made the remarks after reading out the Preamble to the Indian Constitution along with Interim Congress President Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Rajghat in New Delhi, during a protest against the amendments to the Citizenship Act.
“I thank all those who came for this ‘Satyagraha’ battling extreme cold,” Gandhi said. “Not only me, the whole country thanks you.”
Gandhi said the Preamble the Congress leaders read was the “voice of the people” of India. “This was the voice that fought against the British and made them flee from India,” he said. “This is the same voice that built the Indian economy, gave employment to crores of youth, built railway lines, airports. There will be no India without that voice.”
Gandhi said the enemies of India had tried their best to stifle this voice, and to break the country. “They tried their best to finish off the power and the economic strength of this country,” Gandhi said. But, he added, the voice of India stopped this from happening.
“It is ironic that what the enemies of India did not accomplish, [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi is trying his best to do,” the Congress leader said. “He is trying his best to silence the voice of the country.”
Gandhi alleged that when Modi tries to influence the judiciary, threatens journalists or attacks students, he tries to silence the voice of the country. “You are not fighting against the Congress,” Gandhi told Modi. “This is the voice of India, and you are standing against it. And I want to tell you and your friend [Union Home Minister] Amit Shah, that this is not the voice of the Congress, but that of ‘Bharat Mata’.”
The Congress leader said the people of India will give a befitting reply if he tries to shut down their voices.
Gandhi also took a dig at Modi for his remark at a rally in Jharkhand earlier this month that those who are protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act can be recognised from their clothes. “As far as clothes are concerned, it is you who had worn a suit worth Rs 2 crore, not the people of India,” Gandhi asserted. “The people of India know you by your clothes.”
Gandhi demanded that Modi tell the people of India what he has done to improve the strength, the economy and the businesses in the country. Gandhi claimed that the Gross Domestic Product growth rate of the country has fallen from 9% to 4%.
“Because you could not provide jobs to the people or manage the economy, you are hiding behind your hatred,” Gandhi said. “This is the reason you are trying to divide the country.” The Congress leader said that Modi’s organisation – an oblique reference to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh – had taught him for years how to spread hatred and divide the country.
“But the voice of the people of India will not allow you to divide the country,” Gandhi said. “The Constitution of India was made by all – Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians. All their voices are contained in the Constitution. It was made by Babasaheb Ambedkar.” Gandhi said that Modi cannot assault the Constitution, as the whole country will resist it.
The gathering, was also attended by Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, according to NDTV.
The Congress had voted against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, now an Act, which was passed in both Houses of Parliament earlier this month, and received presidential assent the next day. The Act provides for refuge to people of six minority religious communities who have fled from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. However, it excludes Muslims from its scope, thus leaving it open to the charge of being anti-Muslim.
There have been massive protests across the country against the Citizenship Amendment Act over the last two weeks. At least 24 people have been killed in clashes between the police and the protestors, 17 of them in Uttar Pradesh itself. On Monday, protest rallies were organised in Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai.