Prime Minister Narendra Modi is creating a vision of India that is not inclusive and excludes huge chunks of the country’s population, which is unfair and goes against the idea of India, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Monday during an interactive session with students at the prestigious University of Cambridge.
During the event entitled ‘India at 75’ at Corpus Christi College, Gandhi covered a broad range of subjects from Hindu nationalism, the Gandhi family’s role within the Congress Party and efforts to mobilise the people of the country as he fielded questions from a largely Indian student base.
"I have a problem if anybody has a vision for India that excludes people, I don’t care who’s being excluded. I have a problem with it because it is completely unfair, it ignores that there is tremendous energy in the people being excluded and I have a problem with it because that’s not what India is,” said Gandhi, in response to a question about secularism in India.
"I think it goes beyond secularism. You have to include every single person with compassion. Mr Modi is constructing a vision of India where he’s leaving out huge chunks of our population. And, that’s not a vision of India, that’s a vision of a part of India,” he said.
Asked about how the Congress plans to fight against the forces of “Hindu nationalism”, Gandhi declared that he did not agree with the term itself.
“There is nothing Hindu about it and actually there’s nothing nationalist about it. I think you’ll have to think of a new name for them but they’re certainly not Hindu. And, I have studied Hinduism in enough detail to tell you that there’s absolutely nothing Hindu about wanting to murder people and beat people up,” he said.
“My problem with the RSS and the Prime Minister is that they are fiddling with the foundational structure of India. When you play the politics of polarisation, when you isolate and demonise 200 million people, you’re doing something extremely dangerous and you’re doing something that is fundamentally against the idea of India,” he said.
“I’m sure there are good things the Prime Minister has done, but for me attacking the idea of India is unacceptable,” he added.
The BJP on Saturday had accused Gandhi of harming India in his "hate" against Prime Minister Modi and alleged his frequent critical remarks about the country from foreign soils amounted to "betraying" it.
BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia launched a sharp attack on Gandhi for his remarks at a conference in London organised by non-profit think-tank Bridge India on Friday.
Gandhi also said his party is working on plans to go to the ground with padyatras, meet people and walk with people as a way to actively mobilise them from October-November after the Congress presidential elections in August.
“That’s for the Congress party to decide. There’s a presidential election, the party has to decide,” he said, when asked if the party needs a leadership outside of the Gandhi family.
The event, organised by the School of the Humanities and Social Science at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, as part of a series of events celebrating the 75th year of Indian independence, marks the conclusion of Gandhi’s UK tour which began last week.