A day after Sonia Gandhi called upon President Pranab Mukherjee, Congress party held a peace march to Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday. Party chief Sonia Gandhi and Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi led the march along with the party leaders and office bearers. The principal opposition party submitted a memorandum before President Pranab Mukherjee citing “growing intolerance” in the country. Former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, leaders of the party in Parliament Mallikarjun Kharge and Ghulam Nabi Azad, besides Rahul Gandhi and A K Antony were among the leaders who met with the President.
“Sinister campaign is being unleashed to create social and communal tension. It is being done with the objective of polarising society and disturbing social harmony,” the Congress delegation told the President adding “Congress conveys its grave concern at “growing atmosphere of fear, intolerance and intimidation being deliberately created by sections of ruling establish men.”
In its memorandum, the Congress party also expressed its gratitude to the President for speaking out “strongly and unequivocally against forces of prejudice, bigotry and intolerance.”
“While the President has spoken, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is silent which clearly indicates his tacit support to such activities,” Congress party President Sonia Gandhi told the press pack after meeting Mukherjee.
Taking on the Narendra Modi government, Rahul Gandhi too criticised the Prime Minister for his “silence” and said he does not believe it is necessary for him to speak on these incidents while the President and the RBI Governor have conveyed their concerns.
“The Prime Minister and the Finance Minister believe nothing is happening in the country and they feel everything is fine. This is the heart of the problem. These people believe in intolerance. Ideologically they are not tolerant,” Rahul Gandhi said after meeting with the President.
Strongly taking on Union Minister V K Singh over his controversial remarks on the killings of Dalit toddlers in Haryana, the Congress vice president said “when two Dalit children were burnt to death, he called them dogs. He should not be in the cabinet.”
Before starting their march, Sonia Gandhi and other Congress leaders paid floral tributes to Gandhi statue in the Parliament House complex.
The move by the opposition party has come in the backdrop of protests by artistes, writers and scientists over alleged “rising intolerance” after the incidents of Dadri lynching, beef row and other incidents of murders of rationalist thinkers. Several writers, artists and multi-lingual authors had even returned their awards and honours protesting against “rising intolerance” in the country. Top scientist Dr. PM Bhargava had even returned his Padma Bhushan honour last week.
On Monday evening, Mrs. Gandhi had held a near 40 minute one-on-one meeting with President Mukherjee, which the Congress party had termed a “courtesy call”.
This was the second time that Sonia Gandhi had lead a march to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Earlier this year during Budget session of the Parliament, Mrs. Gandhi had led a march of opposition leaders to Rashtrapati Bhavan protesting against the controversial land ordinance which was dubbed by the Congress party as “anti-farmer” and “pro-corporate”.
(With inputs from the PTI)