North-south divide a toolkit being sold by BJP to news channels, says Congress

Senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala. File   | Photo Credit: AKHILESH KUMAR

Defending former Congress president Rahul Gandhi who was caught on the wrong foot for his speech in Thiruvananthapuram where he lauded the voters in Kerala for being more interested in issue-based politics in comparison with the north, the Congress on Wednesday said the north-south divide was a ‘toolkit’ being adopted and sold by the BJP to the news channels and to the public.

Party general secretary Randeep Surjewala told reporters that Mr. Gandhi had given a “clarion call to people of India to question the governments of the day” but the government was using diversionary tactics to keep the debate centred around superficial issues. “Let us all rise up and ensure that the governments of the day answer on issues and not on superficiality that they are trying to divert our attention to,” he said.

After Mr. Gandhi’s comments, the BJP went to the town accusing him of dividing the nation on parochial lines.

Mr. Surejwala called it merely diversionary tactics when the country is besieged with more important issues. “It is an issue that people of India have lost the right to dissent, right to speak, right to express, right to tweet, right to even write on Facebook or on other social media platforms or to express their opinion, for they will be branded as anti nationals.”

He said equally important was the fact that lakhs of farmers were sitting at Delhi borders but the government was displaying insensitivity in refusing to listen to them. He claimed that nearly 255 farmers had died so far in the agitation.

Dragging the protracted conflict with China on the LAC into the debate, Mr. Surjewala said, “It is an issue that China is still occupying Indian territory in Depsang plains, in Gogra and Hot Springs, yet the Prime Minister lives in oblivion and continues to deny it altogether.”

Different line

However, there were voices within the party who took a different line including Anand Sharma who was part of the dissenting group popularly known as G-23. Mr. Sharma, who was recently overlooked for the post of the leader of the Opposition, said the Congress had always stood for a united India.

Mr. Sharma said Mr. Gandhi’s observations were perhaps based on his personal experiences and not meant to disrespect any part of India or dividing it. “In what context he made that observation, he can clarify that so that there’s no conjecture or misunderstandings. When it comes to Amethi, we’re grateful to voters & respect them. Amethi elected Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Capt. Satish Sharma, Sonia Gandhi & Rahul Gandhi. No question of being disrespectful. It’s not the philosophy of Congress. We’ve believed in a united India,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 23, 2021 3:21:02 PM |

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