"My grandmother and father were killed; I may also be killed one day, but I am not worried"

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi accused the Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday of indulging in “divisive politics” and weakening the country’s secular foundations.

Addressing rallies at the Churu district town and Kherli in Alwar district of poll-bound Rajasthan, Mr. Gandhi said the Congress wanted the people to be united, unlike the BJP which “divides people for political gains.”

“I am against the kind of politics the BJP plays. They spark tension for political benefits… they hurt people for political gains.

“Incidents of communal violence spread anger among the people and it is difficult [for the victims] even after several years to remove that hatred from their hearts and minds.” The Congress had been trying to douse the fire stoked by communal elements in places such as Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir.

An emotionally charged Mr. Gandhi said he wanted the nation to “stay together, stand together.” He recalled the assassinations of his grandmother Indira and father Rajiv in the context of violence leading to anger and hatred. “I have faced this [situation] twice. They killed my grandmother. They killed my father. Perhaps I may also be killed one day. But I am not worried. I had to tell you what I feel,” said Mr. Gandhi.

The Nehru family scion said it took him 10 to 15 years to overcome the anger he felt towards the bodyguards who killed his grandmother. His own experience had helped him understand the consequences of anger and hatred. That was why he resented the BJP’s style of politics.

Mr. Gandhi said the Congress’s was the “politics of giving rights” to the common people. It was offering direct benefits to the people through the right to food security, more employment opportunities and better compensation for lands acquired. “We understand that the nation cannot march ahead without business and industries. But there has to be a partnership between the rich and the poor. People belonging to every section, caste and religion must be taken along in our journey.”

As the audience cheered him, Mr. Gandhi said his party would strive to change the current political system in which 300 to 400 people ran the show and took decisions. “Political power should go to the people and the system should be run by a few lakh youths,” he said.

The Congress launched a dedicated web portal at the Kherli rally for involving the common people in the preparation of the party’s manifesto for the upcoming elections. Mr. Gandhi invited a girl and her mother to the stage to open the website using a laptop computer. An elderly man and his son presented their written suggestions to Mr. Gandhi on the podium.

Poonia joins Congress

Discus thrower Krishna Poonia joined the Congress at the rally in Churu. AICC secretary Ashok Tanwar made the announcement and introduced the 36-year-old gold medal winner in the 2010 Commonwealth Games to Mr. Gandhi.

Among those who attended the rallies in the two towns were Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, AICC general secretary in charge of the State Gurudas Kamat, AICC secretary Mirza Irshad Beig, Pradesh Congress president Chandrabhan, Union Minister Sis Ram Ola and Ministers of State Jitendra Singh and Sachin Pilot.

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