Describing the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ a success against the narrative of hatred, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said violence brought no solution but love and affection could do a lot. He also distanced from Congress leader Digvijaya Singh’s statement saying “there was no need to seek proof from the armed forces who are doing exceptional work”.
“We have been able to bring the people across the country together yet again through the yatra. There is no scope for hatred in the country as the Congress believes in spreading the message of love. Through the yatra we have largely been able to fight the disastrous narrative of hatred spread by the BJP in the country,” Mr. Gandhi, who is touring Jammu on foot, said.
Stating that the Congress’ position on Article 370 was clear and already made public in its manifesto, Mr. Gandhi said the primary focus of the party remained on restoring Statehood and Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir.
“Jammu and Kashmir is going through a tough time. The BJP has created a chasm between Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir youth are suffering from depression and discomfort. We are here to listen to them and understand their issues,” he said.
Replying to a question on the yatra turning into a political event, Mr. Gandhi said there would surely be a bit of politics in his speeches. “When Kashmiri Pandits, farmers and unemployed youth would meet me during the yatra and hope that I will definitely raise their issues, there would obviously be a problem for me if I don’t talk about them,” he said.
Mr. Gandhi said he did not hold an iota of hatred for anybody, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On the controversial statement made by Mr. Digvijaya Singh on surgical strikes, Mr. Gandhi said he did not appreciate Mr. Singh’s personal views. “His views are outline views. We are absolutely clear that the armed forces do their job exceptionally well and they do not need to provide proof of that,” Mr. Gandhi said.
Mr. Singh had on Monday questioned the Centre’s surgical strikes inside Pakistan conducted in 2016 and had sought proof. “Ours is a democratic party. We do not believe in coercive action. People are allowed to air their views, which may not necessarily be the view held by the central party. We are not a dictatorship and do not run on the principles of coercion.”
On Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s criticism of the yatra and allegations that Mr. Gandhi was denting India’s image outside the country through the yatra, the Congress leader said it seemed he was being dictated to say these things from elsewhere.
Meanwhile, actress Urmila Matondkar joined Mr. Gandhi’s ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ in Jammu. Mr. Gandhi is likely to unfurl the Tricolour on January 26 in Banihal district.
BJP slams Digvijaya
In another development, BJP national general secretary Tarun Chugh targeted Mr. Digvijaya Singh for his remarks and said he had the habit of speaking the Pakistan-ISI language in Jammu and Kashmir in their effort to demoralise the Indian security forces.
Mr. Chugh demanded that the Congress high command take disciplinary action against Mr. Singh. “If the Congress did not agree with Mr. Singh’s statement then he should be immediately expelled from the party for his anti-national remarks,” he said.
BJP State president Ravinder Raina also demanded an apology from Mr. Singh.