PM Modi, BJP slam Rahul Gandhi’s remarks on ‘Shakti’ as evidence that the Congress is anti-Hindu and anti-women

INDIA bloc says they will destroy ‘Shakti’, which is faith, says PM; Congress no longer following Mahatma Gandhi’s ideals, but is led by divisive, Maoist, anti-Hindu thoughts, says BJP spokesperson

Updated - March 20, 2024 07:10 am IST

Published - March 19, 2024 08:29 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Salem on March 19, 2024.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a public meeting ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in Salem on March 19, 2024. | Photo Credit: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

For the second successive day, the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi attacked the Congress party and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi over his remarks on ‘Shakti’, making the issue an important theme in the party’s campaign for the Lok Sabha election.

In Salem, the Prime Minister alleged at a public rally that the Congress and its allies, including Tamil Nadu’s ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), were out to “destroy Shakti”, but asserted that “they will get destroyed” instead.

Mr. Modi was referring to Mr. Gandhi’s remarks, made at the conclusion of the Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra in Mumbai on Sunday, when he had raised concerns about electronic voting machines and Central investigative agencies, in the context of the Opposition’s struggle against the might of the State, noting that “there is a word ‘shakti’ (might) in Hinduism...”

‘Congress abusing Hinduism’

Constituents of the INDIA bloc “would never speak ill about any other faith, but would not lose a second in abusing the Hindu religion,” Mr. Modi alleged. “The election campaign has started, but the INDI alliance plan came out in their first rally in Mumbai. Their manifesto, ill intentions have come out. At Shivaji Park in Mumbai, the INDI alliance openly declared they will destroy ‘Shakti’ which is faith. What does ‘Shakti’ mean in Hinduism — everybody in Tamil Nadu knows that,” he said, even as 11 women dressed as “Shakti Ammas” joined him on stage.

Also Read | PM Modi targets Rahul for ‘shakti’ remark; my words twisted, says Congress leader

BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad held a press conference on the same issue in New Delhi to amplify the message. “The Congress under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership is no longer the Congress, in view of the doctrine and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. This is a Congress party led by a divisive mind, Maoist, and anti-Hindu thoughts,” he said.

Pitched at women voters

The BJP has framed Mr Gandhi’s remarks on ‘Shakti’ as an attack on not just the way power is defined in Hindu thought, but also noted that it is embodied in the female principle, as in, the goddess being ‘Shakti’. It therefore touches on two of the major points which the BJP wants to focus its campaign on: Hindu consciousness, from which, they emphasise, the Congress party has been completely alienated; and women voters.

After the campaign around the theme of ‘Modi ka Parivar (Modi’s family)‘, claiming that all Indians are members of the Prime Minister’s family — which was a response to Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Lalu Yadav’s assertion that Mr. Modi had no family — this is now the second big campaign issue that has arisen, carrying an emotional pitch.

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