She makes emotional appeal to voters on TV

In a televised three-minute speech in Hindi on Monday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi appealed to the people to defeat the “divisive and autocratic” forces that are out to destroy the values that have made India the home of diverse castes, religions, and communities.

Seated in her study in 10 Janpath, Ms. Gandhi made the emotional appeal, even as she mounted a frontal attack on the BJP.

“The Congress ideology and vision will continue to take us towards a healthy, free democracy, open to the life of change and transformation,” she said, adding that “their vision, clouded with hatred and falsehood, their ideology, divisive and autocratic, will drive us to the ruination of our Bharatiyata, our Hindustaniyat.”

“We want unity. They want to impose uniformity,” she said. “They say, ‘just believe in me’. We say, ‘believe in our intentions, in our achievements: a high rate of growth, inclusive development, strong democratic institutions’.”

Underscoring the fact that the country stood at a “crossroads”, Ms. Gandhi said the Congress was “fighting in this election for a future where power is not the preserve of a select few but exercised by many.”

“Today I want to share what is in my heart, what makes me proud to be an Indian. Our India is founded on certain core beliefs and values that have united all of us, diverse people, into one nation. I learnt these from you, as you made me one of your own.”

The values “that are the very heart and soul of our motherland” she stressed, were “love and respect, harmony and brotherhood — in a word, non-violence.” And it was these “feelings for each other across religions, castes, communities, regions, languages,” that makes India one strong nation. “These have been the bedrock of our progress. These are the essence of our Bharatiyata, our Hindustaniyat,” she said.

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