New Delhi: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday led the party’s day-long fast at the Rajghat here over alleged increasing atrocities on Dalits, adivasis, and minorities and dubbed the Modi government as “anti-Dalits” while vowing to defeat the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
The fast in Delhi was marked by controversies as 1984 anti-Sikh riots accused Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were asked to leave the Rajghat before Rahul Gandhi’s arrival. Also, a picture showing some Delhi Congress leaders eating “chole bhature” at a restaurant before the protest — also held at district headquarters by party leaders across the country to promote harmony in society — went viral on social media.
The controversies gave the Bharatiya Janata Party an opportunity to attack the Congress, saying the main opposition party was a “danga master” (master of riots) and Tytler and Sajjan leaving the stage was its “acceptance of guilt”.
“The atmosphere created in the country is due to BJP ideology, which is to divide the country, crush the Dalits, tribals, and minorities. We are against this ideology. We stand against it today, we will stand against it throughout our lives. And we will defeat them in the 2019 elections,” Gandhi told reporters.
About BJP’s Dalit MPs writing to Modi, Gandhi said: “You talk to them in Parliament. They tell us that Modi ji is a casteist person, anti-Dalit. He has no place for Dalits in his heart; the whole country knows this. It is not a secret.”
Gandhi also attacked BJP President Amit Shah for likening the coming together of opposition parties to “snakes, mongoose, dogs and cats” climbing a tree to save themselves from floods. He said every person in the country was against the BJP.
The Congress chief said the country will not accept that the Modi government “spread violence and hatred in the country… we are standing here against this ideology.”
Before’s Rahul Gandhi’s arrival at the Rajghat, a major controversy erupted after Tytler and Sajjan were apparently told to leave the place as their alleged links to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi continued to haunt them.
Tytler has long been accused of instigating rioters against the Sikhs following the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh security guards on October 31, 1984. Sajjan Kumar is also accused of involvement in two riot cases. Charges have not been proved against either of them.
BJP Spokesperson Sambit Patra called the fast as “farce”.
“This is acceptance of guilt. The real face of the Congress’ violence has come to the fore and that too at the Rajghat,” Patra said on the issue of Tytler and Sajjan.
He dubbed the Congress as a “danga master” and sought to know from its leadership as to who had ordered the killings of Sikhs in 1984.
“In India, if there is one party which can be called ‘danga master’, it is the Congress. Today, they are shedding crocodile tears,” Patra said.
Reminding the Congress and its leadership of alleged “ill-treatment” of Dalit icon Bhim Rao Ambedkar by the party’s leaders, including then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Patra said: “The Congress has been doing politics of appeasement of the Dalits since the times of Nehru ji. Today (Monday), they are doing a drama to launch party President Rahul Gandhi. The Congress can go to any extent to launch its leader.”
Accusing the Congress chief of playing “divisive politics” ahead of the Assembly polls in Karnataka, the BJP leader said Rahul Gandhi cannot do away with the atrocities against the Dalits in the election-bound state as it was ruled by the Congress.
“Why doesn’t Rahul Gandhi sit on fast in Karnataka, where 9,080 cases of crimes against Dalits have been registered, 358 Dalits murdered and 809 Dalit women harassed under the Congress rule,” the BJP leader wondered.
BJP ally Akali Dal also attacked the Congress.
“What we are seeing at the Rajghat is no fast, but only a FARCE! Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, who butchered thousands of Sikhs in 1984, attending a farcical ‘fast’ for unity and harmony! What a joke!” Union Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Harsimrat Kaur Badal said in a tweet.
The BJP also sought to embarrass the Congress by posting a picture on Twitter showing some Delhi Congress leaders eating at a restaurant before the protest.
In the image circulated by BJP leader Harish Khurana, Ajay Maken, Arvinder Singh Lovely and Haroon Yusuf among others were seen eating ‘chole bhature’.
Khurana, son of former Delhi Chief Minister Madan Lal Khurana, tweeted: “Congress leaders have called people to observe fast… but they themselves are enjoying ‘chole bhature’ sitting in a restaurant. They befool really well.”
Lovely, who was seen in the picture, said it was clicked before 8 a.m.
“This is the problem with these (BJP) people. Instead of focusing on the welfare of people, they are concentrating on what we eat,” he said.