Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said here on Friday that the Congress wanted to fight the 2019 Lok Sabha election on religious lines. She launched a scathing attack on Congress president Rahul Gandhi for his alleged remarks to a group of Muslim intellectuals on Wednesday.
The Minister accused the Congress of playing a “dangerous game”, and said the discourse was veering towards the kind that existed in 1947 which resulted in the partition of India on religious lines.
Warns of disharmony
Waving a copy of an Urdu daily that reported on certain remarks made by the Congress president at that meeting, Ms. Sitharaman demanded to know from Mr. Gandhi whether he had termed the Congress a Muslim party and said the party would “course-correct” after having “lost its way” during the Karnataka polls and frequent temple visits.
“In this intellectuals’ meet, Rahul Gandhi is reported to have apologised to all Muslims that the party had lost its way and it was course- correcting. In this he asks that little episodes of temple visits need to be forgotten,” she said at a press conference at the party headquarters in New Delhi.
“I would also like to say that it will be the Congress’s responsibility if we see incidents of communal disharmony between now and 2019,” Ms Sitharaman said.
“The Congress has for a very long time openly done minority appeasement, now it has reached a crescendo. By terming Muslims the next Dalits, what is Rahul Gandhi trying to do or say,” she asked.
“Rahul Gandhi like a fringe group leader went to JNU to support the
gang. As a responsible president of a responsible party, let him come out clean on what transpired between him and Muslim intellectuals who attended the meet,” she said.
“Is Congress a Muslim party? We think that the Congress is getting back to a divide-India mindset,” the Minister added in a strongly worded press conference. She pointed to remarks made by other Congress leaders, like Z.A. Khan (Minister for Minority Affairs in Karnataka), of wanting Sharia courts across the country and the comments of Shashi Tharoor, MP, that the BJP was steering the country towards being a “Hindu Pakistan”.
“Are you [Rahul Gandhi] in favour of sharia courts? Did you coin the term Hindu terror under the UPA because you knew you would call yourself a Muslim party,” she asked. “It is reported that Rahul Gandhi said he would not allow Prime Minister Modi to be re-elected. Do you want to win to serve the country or just to defeat Prime Minister Modi, is that a constructive engagement?”
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