New Delhi: Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday launched a scathing attack on the Narendra Modi government, accusing it of disrespecting the country's diversity and denying pluralism and seeking to take India backwards.
Delivering her speech at the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) here, Gandhi alleged that the government lacked the capacity, vision and wisdom to uphold Nehru's legacy.
On the 130th birth anniversary of the country's first prime minister, Gandhi called upon all to unite and speak up against the "bigotry, injustice and mismanagement" of the last six years.
Nehru's vision stood for four pillars — democratic institution-building, staunch secularism, socialist economics and a non-aligned foreign policy — and remains at the core of true India, she said.
"It is lamentable that those who are in power today are blind to this truth. They lack the capacity, the vision and the wisdom to uphold this legacy. The forces unleashed by our present rulers want to dictate to us what we can do, say or think," she said.
"Their idea of unity is uniformity. They disrespect and fear diversity which means they deny our pluralism, our freedom of choice, which are integral to our fundamental rights. Their language may be modern, but they seek to take India backward, not forward. For after all, they made no sacrifices to shape India's destiny," she said.
"It falls on each and every one of us to pull away this hypocrisy and reveal the darkness lurking beneath. We must unite and speak up against the bigotry, injustice and mismanagement of the last six years Not just for ourselves, but for the millions of our fellow brothers and sisters who continue to suffer," Gandhi said.
Listing out the four pillars of Nehruvianism, the Congress president said these were integral to his vision of India. "Today, this vision is fundamentally under attack, but it remains at the core of the true India that we must continue to fight for," she said.
Describing Nehru as India's "greatest son", Gandhi said his timeless legacy and his contributions are being decried.
"Today, when we take our democracy and pluralist social fabric for granted, it is easy to forget the magnitude of contributions made by titans like Nehru and others of his time. It is easy to forget the challenges these men and women were faced with, the complexity of the questions they had to answer, and the arduous project of nation-building they embarked upon. It is their lifelong labours that have brought us to the India we recognise and cherish today," she said.
Gandhi said Nehru led a country that had not just been ravaged by colonialism and Partition, but by 1947 had been reduced into one of the poorest, most exploited societies on earth.
"Indeed, under similar circumstances, in many other countries, such conditions led to the suppression of democracy in the name of unity and development. And, in its place, came the rise of authoritarian regimes that preyed on the hardships of the people for the benefit of a handful," she said.
Gandhi, however, said when confronted with challenges that would have crippled the very best, Nehru chose instead to put his faith in a democratic system that treated all citizens as equals and trusted the collective wisdom of their electoral choices.
"Rather than compromise on this commitment, he would go on to launch India on a remarkable experiment in democracy. That was his own tryst with destiny. In doing so, he not only etched an eternal mark in the history of our nation, but in his time went on to consolidate India's democracy and entrench the foundational values of our polity, values to which we are still proud to lay claim," Gandhi said.