Congress’s fast for social harmony beset with controversies

Media reports says senior leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar were asked to leave the venue of the day-long fast, called to protest reported caste violence during 'Bharat bandh' on April 2.

April 09, 2018 01:19 pm | Updated December 01, 2021 12:20 pm IST - New Delhi

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and DPCC president Ajay Maken participating in the protest at Rajghat.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi and DPCC president Ajay Maken participating in the protest at Rajghat.

The Congress’s sadbhavnaupvas (fast for harmony) to promote “social harmony’’ ended in a fresh round of accusations, as party president Rahul Gandhi described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as “a casteist and an anti-Dalit leader” and charged his government with spreading hatred.

Mr. Gandhi led the day-long fast at Rajghat to protest against the caste violence that erupted during the April 2 Bharat Bandh, while other senior leaders led such upvas across the country.

Food before fast

The Delhi event, however, was marked by controversy after senior leaders were photographed having food hours before the event and in the presence of leaders accused of leading the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

“Today, Congress workers are standing up against a particular ideology. A few days ago, a BJP leader compared the Opposition to animals, but the truth is every individual in the country today is opposed to the government. We are standing against the anti-Dalits, anti-tribal, anti-minority and anti-farmer approach of this government,” Mr. Gandhi said after taking part in the fast for over three hours.“This country won’t tolerate the hatred and violence spread by Narendra Modi ji’s government. We are standing here today and will stand against it all our lives and we will defeat them in the 2019 elections,” Mr. Gandhi said.


When reporters sought his views on the BJP Dalit MPs writing to the Prime Minister about Dalit issues, he said: “When you talk to them in Parliament, they tell us that Modiji is a casteist and is ‘anti-Dalit.’ Modiji does not have any place in his heart for Dalits. The entire nation knows this and it is not a secret.”

But before Mr. Gandhi joined the fast at 1 p.m., the event started on a controversial note.

A section of the media reported that Mr. Gandhi’s office did not want the presence of Delhi Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar, who are facing criminal cases for their role in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

While Mr. Kumar was reported to have left the venue, Mr. Tytler claimed that he chose “on his own to sit among the workers” after reports that he was not allowed on stage to be seen with Mr. Gandhi.

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