Shillong: Describing the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) as “class bullies,” senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday appealed to the people to fight against them collectively through non-violence.
Drumming up support for the Congress here in poll-bound Meghalaya, Gandhi also alleged that the Trinamool Congress’ “idea in Meghalaya” was to ensure that the “BJP is strengthened.”
“The BJP-RSS is like a bully in class who thinks he knows everything, understands everything, and has no respect for anybody else. We have to fight them collectively,” he said.
The Congress leader appealed to the religious sentiments of the Christian-majority tribal state, saying that his party would protect their religion despite the “huge rise in prices” under the current regime at the Center.
While campaigning for his party in the previous assembly elections in Meghalaya in 2018, the former Congress president similarly raked up the issue of alleged atrocities on Christians in the country.
Donning a traditional black Jymphong (waistcoat traditionally worn by Khasi men, particularly during important ceremonies and festivals], Gandhi said he was wearing it as a sign of respect for the culture and tradition of the people of Meghalaya, which is also reflected in his actions.
The Congress leader, however, claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on the other hand, puts on the jacket and goes on to “attack your religion, culture, history, and language.”
“We are here to defend your culture, to defend your language, to defend your religion, and I am here as a partner, as a friend, and I come here with humility to learn and to understand from your history, your tradition, and your culture,” Gandhi said.
The Congress leader accused the BJP of “communal polarization,” saying, “The anti-conversion bill in Karnataka, you see on television the mob lynching taking place.” You understand exactly what they are trying to do.”
“The RSS has captured all the state institutions, and they are attacking the people and their faith with each passing day. They do not respect the culture and faith of minorities and tribal,” Gandhi said, asserting that the anti-conversion bill passed in Karnataka in January 2021 has put the entire Christian community and minorities in fear. Gandhi also fired salvos at TMC and referred to it as the “B team” of the BJP.
“Is TMC a silent partner of the BJP? Was the TMC’s entry into Goa merely a ruse to divide votes against the Congress? Is TMC attempting something similar in Meghalaya? Is it intentionally going to cheat the people of Meghalaya also?,” Gandhi asked, asserting that TMC must clarify why it is silent about the BJP in Meghalaya.
Urging the electorates of Meghalaya to support his party and “vote for our young and experienced candidates” to ensure a “thumping majority” for the Congress in the coming assembly elections.
Elections are scheduled for February 27, and the counting will be held on March 2 to form the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly.
He mentioned that 47 of the 50 candidates that Congress has fielded in the state were “fresh and young” and below the age of 45, which reflected a “youthful party.”
The Congress leader promised Rs 3000 every month to single mothers and “one job per household in Meghalaya” if his party was voted in by the majority. He also talked about taking action against the “illegal coal scam.”
“We will make sure that the people of Meghalaya get uninterrupted power supply to their houses and to industries. We will fight the menace of drugs and try to provide a drug-free Meghalaya, take strict action against peddlers, and set up de-addiction centres,” the Congress leader promised if his party is voted to power.
Gandhi also cast aspersions on all media organisations in the country, saying, “The media of this country is completely controlled by two or three large industrialists, who have a relationship with the prime minister. So we can’t even express ourselves in the media anymore. And that was one of the reasons we decided to do the ‘Bharat Yodo Yatra’ to listen to the people of the country, and we expressed what this country is going through.
Gandhi also mentioned that he recently asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Lok Sabha about the latter’s relationship with Adani, even as he alleged that there was corruption in Meghalaya “at a scale that has never been seen.”