Rahul takes 'not Hindus' jibe at BJP, says it indulges in violence, hate 24x7

Rahul said the leaders of the ruling party are not Hindus as they engage in "violence and hate" round the clock, during his debut speech as LoP in Lok Sabha, invoking massive protest from BJP.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi holding up a pictures of Lord Shiva during his debut speech on July 1, 2024.
Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi holding up a pictures of Lord Shiva during his debut speech on July 1, 2024.

New Delhi | Leader of Opposition Rahul Gandhi launched a no-holds-barred attack on the BJP in the Lok Sabha on Monday, saying the leaders of the ruling party are not Hindus as they engage in "violence and hate" round the clock, drawing massive protests from the treasury benches, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi accusing the Congress leader of calling the entire Hindu community violent.

Gandhi, however, hit back at Modi, saying he was speaking about the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and neither the ruling party nor the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) nor Modi represents the entire Hindu society.

Besides Modi, who intervened twice, at least five cabinet ministers also interjected during Gandhi's speech that lasted for about an hour and 40 minutes, with Home Minister Amit Shah demanding his apology for painting the Hindu community as violent.

"It is not just one religion that talks about courage. In fact, all our religions talk about courage," Gandhi said in his debut speech as the leader of opposition in the Lok Sabha that was watched by his mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra from the visitors' gallery.

The Congress leader was speaking during the debate on the Motion of Thanks on the president's address to a joint sitting of Parliament.

Gandhi quoted Prophet Muhammad to highlight that the Quran talks about fearlessness and said when hands are raised in "dua", the "abhay mudra" can also be observed in a way.

Holding up pictures of Lord Shiva, Guru Nanak and Jesus Christ, he referred to Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism and Jainism to underline the importance of fearlessness. He also cited the attributes of Lord Shiva and teachings of Guru Nanak, Jesus Christ, Buddha and Mahavir to state that all religions and great people of the country have said "daro mat, darao mat (do not be scared, do not scare others)".

"Shivji says daro mat, darao mat, shows the abhay mudra (the right hand held upright with the palm facing outwards), talks about ahimsa, but those who call themselves Hindus indulge in hatred, violence and untruths round the clock," Gandhi said, pointing towards the BJP MPs.

As the treasury-bench members stood up in protest, Gandhi slammed the BJP, saying, "Aap Hindu ho hi nahi (You are not Hindus). It is clearly written in Hinduism that one should stand with the truth and not back down from the truth or be scared of it," he said.

Intervening during his speech, Modi said, "This issue is very serious. Calling the entire Hindu community violent is a serious issue." Gandhi said he is talking about the BJP and the ruling party is not the sole representative of Hinduism.

"Ye theka nahi hai BJP ka," he said.

Gandhi further said a Hindu can never indulge in spreading hatred or fear. He alleged that all that the BJP does is spread violence and hatred.

Shah sought the Congress leader's apology to the House and the country for hurting the feelings of crores of people who take pride in identifying themselves as Hindus.

He said the ruckus created by the opposition cannot drown the fact that the words -- "those who call themselves Hindus indulge in violence" -- were used in the House.

Shah spoke of the Emergency and 1984 anti-Sikhs riots to hit back at Gandhi, saying he has no right to talk about non-violence when the Congress had spread "ideological terror" in the country.

In a swipe at Gandhi for alleging that ministers do not greet him due to the fear of Modi, the prime minister said democracy and the Constitution have taught him to take the leader of opposition seriously.

Gandhi accused the BJP of launching "systematic attacks" on the Constitution and the fundamental concept of India, noting that millions of people have resisted the ideas proposed by the ruling party.

"I was attacked on the orders of Prime Minister Modi and the government. There were 20-plus cases (against me), a two-year jail sentence, (my) house was taken away, (I was subjected to) 55 hours of interrogation by the ED," he said.

As Gandhi held up a picture of Lord Shiva, Speaker Om Birla reminded him that rules do not allow displaying placards in the House.

The Congress leader also accused the BJP of threatening minorities and spreading hatred and violence against Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

He said minorities represent India in all spheres and bring pride to the nation. "They stand like a rock with the country and are patriots, but you (BJP) attack them," he said.

Referring to the Agnipath scheme for short-term military recruitment, Gandhi said the government regards the Agniveers as "use-and-throw labourers" and does not even give them the status of a "shaheed" (martyr).

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh intervened to rebut Gandhi's charge.

The Congress leader also hit out at the Centre over the situation in Manipur, alleging that it has pushed the northeastern state into a civil war.

He slammed the government over farmers' issues, saying it did not want to give a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP) for crops.

Agriculture Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan objected to Gandhi's remarks and accused him of "misleading" the House. Union ministers Kiren Rijiju and Bhupender Yadav also intervened at different points of Gandhi's speech.

Later, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw, along with Rijiju and BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi, held a press conference to rebut Gandhi's allegations.

Referring to a row involving medical entrance exam NEET, Gandhi said students do not believe in the exam because they feel that it is for the rich people and there is no place in it for meritorious students.

Talking about his new role as the leader of opposition, Gandhi said his job is to represent all parties equally with love and affection.

"So when Hemant Soren or (Arvind) Kejriwal goes to jail, I should be concerned. When you unleash enforcement agencies on them, we should defend them. When you are a constitutional person, your personal aspirations should take a back seat," he said.

In his concluding remarks, Gandhi asked the ruling party not to spread fear or hatred in the minds of people.

"Do not think of the opposition as your enemies... We are ready to discuss anything you want to. Let us work together to take the country forward," he said.

Later, in a post in Hindi on X, Gandhi said, "Narendra Modi has been running the 'reign of fear' for 10 years! By taking control of all the agencies, institutions and the media, the BJP has only worked to spread fear in every section of the society.

"Fear of black laws for farmers; fear of paper leak for students, fear of unemployment for youngsters; fear of a flawed GST for small traders; fear of Agnipath for patriots and fear of a civil war for the people of Manipur," he said on the microblogging platform.

That is why the people of the country have snatched the majority from the BJP by giving a mandate against the "package of fear", Gandhi added.

"Being afraid, scaring others, spreading fear is against the spirit of India. All our religions also teach the same thing -- do not be afraid, do not scare others," he said.

Lok Sabha LoP Rahul Gandhi speaks in the House during ongoing Parliament session, in New Delhi, Monday, July 1, 2024.
Lok Sabha LoP Rahul Gandhi speaks in the House during ongoing Parliament session, in New Delhi, Monday, July 1, 2024.

Minorities make country proud, they are patriots, but BJP spreads hatred against them: Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi | Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Rahul Gandhi Monday said minorities are patriots and make the country proud in every sphere, as he accused the BJP of spreading violence and hatred against Muslims, Sikhs and Christians.

In his maiden speech as the LoP in Lok Sabha, Gandhi alleged the BJP was spreading fear among every section of society.

"You scare the minorities... you spread violence, hatred against minorities, against Muslims, against Sikhs, against Christians. And what have the minorities done? They represent India in every sphere, they make India proud," the former Congress chief said.

"They stand steadfast with India like mountains, they are patriots and you attacked all the minorities, spread violence and hatred against them," he said.

Gandhi said Prime Minister Narendra Modi stated that Mahatma Gandhi was revived by a movie but the Father of the Nation was always alive.

He alleged that the small and medium businesses, which are the backbone of India's employment, have been blown away by a flawed GST and demonetisation.

"Today the result is that whatever they do, India's youth cannot get employment. Job creation, the backbone is broken, finished," he said.

"I went to Gujarat and talked to textiles owners. I asked them why demonetisation and GST happened. They clearly said GST and demonetisation have been done to help billionaires. Narendra Modi works for billionaires, it is a simple matter," he alleged.

"I keep going there and this time we will defeat you in Gujarat. You can write it down, the Opposition INDIA alliance is going to defeat you in Gujarat," the Congress leader said.

Gandhi alleged that there has been a systematic attack on the Constitution, idea of India and on anybody who resists ideas being proposed by the BJP.

"Many of us, personally were attacked. In fact, some of our leaders are still in jail. One of our leaders has just recently been released, another one still in jail," he said in an obvious reference to former Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, who recently got bail in a case, and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who is still in custody in a corruption case related to the alleged excise scam.

Gandhi said he is happy and proud to be in the Opposition because "for us, there is more than power, there is truth but for you, there is only power".

"So, when Shiv Ji, places the snake near his neck, what he is saying is 'I will accept the truth and I will not back down from the truth...behind the shoulder of Shiv Ji is the Trishul. Now, I would like you to understand that there is a reason, that the Trishul, a weapon, has been his shoulder, it is not a symbol of violence, it is a symbol of non-violence," he said.

"When we fought the BJP, we were not violent. When we defended the truth, there was not an ounce of violence in us. Now, there is a third idea, a very powerful idea that emerges from the idea of truth, courage and non-violence and that idea of course is a symbol that many of you hate, but that idea is the Abhayamudra, the symbol of the Congress Party which as you can see is also in this image and Jai Mahadev," he said.

He further said that this morning Union minister Rajnath Singh smiled at him and greeted him but was now conscious of sitting with Modi and was not smiling or greeting him.

"The same story is of Gadkari ji too, it is true," he said.

When Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla asked Gandhi to stick to the discussion on the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address, the Congress leader cited that BJP MP Anurag Thakur had talked about Ayodhya.

"Anurag Thakur ji had talked about the attack on Sanatan Dharma, that's why I have done this. I want to show what happened in Ayodhya, what was the truth of Ayodhya, he had raised the issue in the President's debate," Gandhi said.

He said the people of Ayodhya had given a message by defeating the BJP.

Gandhi said the Samajwadi Party MP who defeated the BJP in Ayodhya had told him that the people were upset that their land was taken away and they were not given adequate compensation.

Also, the people of Ayodhya were not called for the inauguration of the Ram temple while the BJP's "crony capitalist" friends were there, he said.

Gandhi said that after becoming Leader of the Opposition (LoP) all his personal dreams, aspirations and fears have to be put aside.

"I am now actually two people, I am not one person. I am a Constitutional person and my job is to be the Leader of the Opposition to represent all these parties equally. In fact, I don't just represent the Congress Party, I represent every single party and I have to treat every single party with love and affection," he said.

"So, when Hemant Soren Ji is in jail or Arvind Kejriwal Ji is in jail, it should disturb me, it should hurt me. When you unleash your agencies on these political people, it is our job to defend them," he said.

Gandhi said this country has a government and "we, like it or not, you are the government of India, elected by the people".

"But I would say to you that as individual members, as the Cabinet, you do not spread fear in this country, that you do not spread hatred in this country, that you listen to the farmers of this country, you listen to the students of this country," he said.

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