In a frontal attack on the Narendra Modi government, Congress President Sonia Gandhi said on Wednesday that there has been an “alarming increase” in communal incidents since it came to power and asked partymen to resist its “authoritarian and sectarian” tendencies.
“It is our task to play the role of a vigilant Opposition, to stand up for the values and policies of the Indian National Congress, and to resist the authoritarian and sectarian tendencies of the new government as it tries to get its way in Parliament”.
“This we have begun to do, I believe, with increasing effectiveness,” Gandhi said addressing the first meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party in the new Lok Sabha.
Stepping up her attack on the BJP on communalism, she alleged that since the BJP has come to power there has been an alarming increase in number of incidents of communal violence.
“We have had hundreds of incidents of communal violence and rioting in Uttar Pradesh, in Maharashtra and a number of other States. In addition, there have been other subtle but pernicious signals of intolerance,” Gandhi said telling the partymen “our work is cut out for us.”
On Congress still not getting the post of Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha apparently weighing on her mind Sonia said, “But Parliament is not the only forum available to us. If each of us has to be an effective Congressman and woman, we must also work to maintain and strengthen the grassroot connections to the voters that have brought us here.”
Congress President also accused the Modi goverment of “stealing” the ideas of UPA and “borrowing” its programmes as it has “nothing new to offer”.
“The lesson of these ten weeks is that the BJP has nothing new to offer the country. They attacked us without principles and they are now governing us without policies. Well, they are welcome to steal our ideas. They are welcome to borrow our programmes.”
“The new government now supports the proposed Goods and Services Tax, sugar subsidies, railway and diesel price hikes, FDI in insurance, the Aadhaar scheme, and other key UPA budget measures, all of which they had bitterly– and, if I might add, hypocritically — denounced, obstructed and prevented progress on when they were where we are today,” she said.
Gandhi also said that the new government also tried to prevent a discussion on Gaza in Parliament and then ended up voting at the United Nations Human Rights Council just as the UPA would have.
Touching on the incidents of rape she said that women too have much to be concerned about, judging by the evidence of BJP rule so far.
“Let us be clear. There is a great deal of concern throughout the country, particularly among women and minorities, the poor, about whether the BJP and its sister organisations mean to work for all of India’s communities, or whether they seek to profit from dividing the nation on sectarian lines”, she said.
Gandhi said that while it was said that the motto of this government is “minimum government, maximum governance” what the nation seems to have got is “minimum governance to protect the aam aadmi, maximum government to amass power in the hands of the BJP”
The Congress President said that her party will never cease to be the party that embodies the spirit of the nationalist struggle and the principles of democracy, pluralism and social justice on which Independent India has been built for nearly seven decades.
Attacking the government over issues including price rise and unemployment, the Congress President said, “Prices are rising across the nation, hurting the ordinary housewife, the college student, the worker, and particularly the unemployed and deprived”.