The Congress believes India is a union of states where all religions, cultures, and communities must be protected, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said as he campaigned for his party in Mizoram today. Continuing his attack on the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress leader raked up the Manipur issue, criticising PM Modi for not visiting the state even once since ethnic violence broke out on May 3.
The people of Mizoram don’t want the BJP, Mr Gandhi said. “What people want here is that they don’t want the BJP to enter Mizoram and so people are with us. We have a proven track record in Mizoram.”
Addressing a press conference in the capital city Aizawl, Mr Gandhi said, “Congress laid the foundation of the country and has a track record of protecting the country’s ethos. The BJP has attempted to capture the entire institutional structure of India.”
“The upcoming Mizoram election is about protecting the idea of Mizoram from the BJP-RSS entry,” Mr Gandhi said, referring to the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swyamsevak Sangh (RSS). “We will defend the idea of India, protect the Constitution, and the value of the country. That’s the idea of the INDIA bloc and the alliance is ruling over 60 per cent of the country.”
The BJP and the RSS are attacking the religions and traditions of the people of the northeast, Mr Gandhi alleged.
“Different states in the northeast are being attacked by BJP and RSS. Your religion and traditions are under attack. In Mizoram, the two regional parties – MNF and ZPM – are serving as the entry points for the BJP. The MNF is already an ally of the BJP and the ZPM is not fighting the BJP and in fact, the Assam Chief Minister is also trying to do politics here through these regional parties,” he said.
Drawing parallels with Manipur, Mr Gandhi said that the neighbouring state was attacked by the BJP through local parties.
“My Manipur visit was the first time in my career to any part of the country where I saw this kind of a situation within a state; communities are so divided that Meiteis can’t go to the Kuki areas and Kukis can’t go to places dominated by the Meiteis.”
“The politics of division and hatred has created a division and it needs to be repaired. The hatred the BJP has spread needs to be removed and that is my point on Manipur. It’s been a puzzle that why, for months, as Manipur burned, the Prime Minister didn’t visit the state. It was his primary responsibility, was it not?” he said.
Responding to the BJP’s allegations of dynastic politics, Mr Gandhi said the BJP is full of dynasties and the party’s idea is to promote big players and kill small businesses.
“If you see the BJP’s politics, their idea is to kill small businesses and help the biggest players. What does Amit Shah’s son do? What does Rajnath Singh’s son do? Look at the leaders in the BJP and what they do. You will find that the BJP is full of dynasties. So the question of dynasties has to be objective,” he said.
The Congress MP also spoke about the Israel-Gaza war, days after a statement by the party’s working committee highlighted a rift within the party. “Our resolution on Palestine-Israel is very clear. We are against violence. Anybody who kills innocent people is a criminal,” Mr Gandhi said.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, had expressed its “dismay and anguish” over the war and underlined its support of the Palestinian peoples’ right to “land (and) self-government, and to live with dignity and respect”.
Sources said the Congress’ statement highlighted divisions within the party, and that the section on the Israel-Gaza war was not well-received by all those at the CWC meeting. Sources also suggested the inclusion of that section in the statement was a major sticking point and that it was not part of the original draft.
Mizoram will vote on November 7 to elect 40 MLAs. The votes will be counted on December 3. Candidates have until October 20 to file their nominations. The candidatures will be scrutinised the next day, while the last date to withdraw a nomination is October 23.