So­nia Gandhi calls to pro­tect ‘soul of In­dia’

Daily Trust - - INTERNATIONAL - Some In­dian women

Rul­ing Congress party leader in rare TV ad­dress asks people not to back op­po­si­tion that she says is mo­ti­vated by ha­tred.

So­nia Gandhi, the leader of In­dia’s rul­ing Congress party, has is­sued a rare di­rect ap­peal to the na­tion not to re­turn an op­po­si­tion she said was mo­ti­vated by “ha­tred and false­hood” in the coun­try’s gen­eral elec­tion.

The three-minute TV ad­dress was aired at prime time on Hindi­lan­guage chan­nels just as an opin­ion poll showed for the first time that an al­liance led by the Hindu na­tion­al­ist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could win an out­right ma­jor­ity, re­ported Reuters news agency.

“Their vi­sion, clouded with ha­tred and false­hood, their ide­ol­ogy, di­vi­sive and au­to­cratic, will drive us to ...ruina­tion,” Gandhi said in the clip broad­cast on Mon­day night. “It is this, the very heart and soul of In­dia, that we are fight­ing to pro­tect in this elec­tion, from those who seek to change it, and to di­vide us,” said Gandhi. “They want to im­pose uni­for­mity. They say: ‘Just be­lieve in me.’”

The BJP dis­missed the ad­dress as “a farewell speech given in des­per­a­tion”, driv­ing home an ad­van­tage it has reaped from re­cent ac­counts by for­mer govern­ment in­sid­ers that So­nia Gandhi had kept Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh on a tight leash.

“She wants to give power to the people but did not give power to the prime min­is­ter,” Prakash Javadekar, the BJP’s na­tional spokesman, told Reuters. While So­nia Gandhi did not men­tion the BJP’s prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date, Naren­dra Modi, by name, her com­ments clearly tar­geted his brand of Hindu na­tion­al­ism that she be­lieves poses a threat to so­cial peace in In­dia’s di­verse so­ci­ety of 1.2 bil­lion, and at a BJP cam­paign fo­cused on Modi that crit­ics say smacks of a per­son­al­ity cult. Aljazeera

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