‘Cong di­vi­sive’: BJP ups ante

Nir­mala Sithara­man says Op­po­si­tion party play­ing ‘dan­ger­ous game’

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTNATION - HT Cor­re­spon­dent

NEW DELHI: The Congress is play­ing a dan­ger­ous game and is us­ing the re­li­gion card in the run-up to the 2019 gen­eral elec­tion, de­fence min­is­ter Nir­mala Sithara­man said on Fri­day.

The Congress’ be­hav­iour will cre­ate 1947-type com­mu­nal dishar­mony in so­ci­ety, she said at the BJP head­quar­ters in Delhi.

The se­nior BJP leader was re­act­ing to a news re­port that quoted Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi as say­ing in a meet­ing with Mus­lim in­tel­lec­tu­als on Wed­nes­day that the “Congress is a Mus­lim party.”

How­ever, the Congress dis­missed the re­port, as­sert­ing that it was a party of 132 crore In­di­ans.

Sithara­man launched a fullscale at­tack on the Congress chief, ask­ing if it was a course cor­rec­tion for the party whose leader claimed to be

(one who wears the sa­cred Brah­mini­cal thread) dur­ing the Gu­jarat elec­tion cam­paign last year.

The Congress, Sithara­man said, was speak­ing a lan­guage that was against the Con­sti­tu­tion. She also cited Congress leader Shashi Tha­roor’s re­marks that In­dia would be­come a ‘Hindu Pak­istan’ if the BJP wins next year’s elec­tion. “Rahul Gandhi has to come out to say very clearly what he meant when he said the Congress is a Mus­lim party,” she said. “Let Congress Pres­i­dent come out clear, Is Congress a Mus­lim Party?

Sithara­man said the Congress party shall be solely re­spon­si­ble for any po­lar­i­sa­tion be­tween now and the 2019 elec­tions. Rub­bish­ing the re­port as a“ru­mour”, the Congress said it does not dis­crim­i­nate on grounds of re­li­gion

ja­neu dhari

and eth­nic­ity.

“When gov­er­nance fails, when the gov­ern­ment and its head speak lies, then ru­mours take prece­dence and be­come the main pol­icy of the gov­ern­ment. The his­tory of In­dia’s free­dom strug­gle and the Congress party is well doc­u­mented. The Congress is the party of 132 crore In­di­ans and will re­main so for­ever,” the party’s chief spokesper­son Ran­deep Singh Sur­je­w­ala told re­porters.

Later ad­dress­ing a news con­fer­ence, Congress spokesper­son Sush­mita Dev at­tacked the de­fence min­is­ter. Sithara­man is try­ing to “cre­ate com­mu­nal dishar­mony. The Congress be­lieves in sec­u­lar­ism. She should in­stead an­swer about the ris­ing un­em­ploy­ment and scams in the coun­try”.

Dev said the gov­ern­ment will be fac­ing some tough ques­tions in the up­com­ing mon­soon ses­sion of Par­lia­ment.

“Since the BJP can­not an­swer ques­tions on the Ni­rav Modi and Rafale scams, it is try­ing to de­rail the na­tion and the mon­soon ses­sion,” she added, re­fer­ring to a fraud at Pun­jab Na­tional Bank car­ried out by fugi­tive jew­eller Ni­rav Modi and al­leged ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in a deal to pur­chase Rafale fighter planes from French man­u­fac­turer Das­sault.

SHUTTERSTOCK

The de­fence min­is­ter said the US sanc­tions leg­is­la­tion won’t af­fect the deal with Rus­sia, brush­ing aside Wash­ing­ton’s con­cerns over ~39,000­cr pur­chase of S­400 Tri­umf anti­air­craft mis­siles.

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