New Delhi, Aug 17 (IANS) Rebel JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav on Thursday brought together opposition parties on a common platform for saving the composite culture of the country that was in “danger” as participants asserted that there was a need to fight divisive forces that posed a threat to the Constitution.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader Ahmed Patel, National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah were among the leaders from 14 parties who attended the “Save Composite culture” convened by Yadav.
Rahul Gandhi launched a stinging attack on the Narendra Modi government and the RSS, Gandhi accused them of trying to change the Constitution and urged all opposition parties to fight them unitedly.
Samajwadi Party leader Ramgopal Yadav, RJD leader Manoj Jha, JVM leader Babulal Marandi, NCP leader Tariq Anwar, grandson of B.R. Ambedkar Prakash Ambedkar, CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury, CPI leader D. Raja, Trinamool COngress leader Sukhendu Shekhar Roy and Veer Singh (BSP) were the other participants in the day-long conference.
Yadav was opposed to Nitish Kumar’s decision and was replaced as leader of the JD(U) Parliamentary group in Rajya Sabha.
“People were worried that I may get swayed and accept the ministerial berth. But my principle did not allow me to accept that,” Yadav said in a reference to the recent developments in Bihar where party President Nitish Kumar switched sides to join the BJP and continue as Chief Minister.
Gandhi said, “After independence, (Jawaharlal) Nehruji, (Sardar Vallabhbhai) Patelji, (B.R.) Ambedkarji all talked about one man, one vote system. They know well that till the time there is one man, one vote system in the country, till that time the country doesn’t belong to them.”
“RSS’s main aim is to destroy and finish the Constitution. They ultimately want to take away the One man One vote right,” he alleged.
Gandhi said the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) was aware that with its ideology it would not win elections and that was the reason why they were placing their men in every institution — judiciary, bureaucracy and media. “If we have to fight them, then we have to fight unitedly,” he said.
He also said that the Congressmen believe that they belong to the country and want to do something for it while the BJP and the RSS claim that this country belonged only to them.
“The RSS says that this country is ours, but it does not belong to the minorities, dalits and farmers,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi also questioned the RSS’s role in the independence movement and said that their most prominent leader during the independence movement wrote to the Britishers offering apologies in return for freedom from prison.
“They pleaded for their freedom. None of the Congress leaders or leaders of the other parties except the RSS pleaded with the Britishers,” he said.
Referring to the recent stand-off at the Indo-China border, he said, “Today we can see that China is staring at us and challenging us. But had the farmers, labourers, Dalits, tribal people of the country been strong then China would not have dared us,” he said.
He also said that the when the people of India and the world would stand united, then no Hitler would be successful.
He also appealed to the youths and farmers to come together to preserve the composite culture of the country and also understand the value of the ballot in fighting divisive forces.
Gandhi said while Modi talks of swachch (clean) bharat, people need a sach (truthful) bharat. “Whereever Modiji goes, he lies,” Gandhi said.
CPI-M leader Sitram Yechury criticised the government and appealed for saving the composite civilisation, which, he said, was under attack from forces which wants to push their narrow agenda.
“Whom we worship, what we wear, what we eat, who is our life partner, what is our caste and which language we speak does not matter,” Yechury said.
The CPI-M leader said: “By staying together we have been able to make a very rich culture and tradition, that is called India.”
“We are determined to save this composite civilisation, which is under attack from forces which wants to push their narrow agenda for their narrow gains,” he added.
Slamming the government, Communist Party of India leader D. Raja said that RSS was the most unconstitutional authority in the country.
“Today the RSS is controlling the government. It has become an extra constitutional authority,” Raja said.
“Now according to me, it (RSS) has become most unconstitutional authority in the country,” he alleged.
He also said that along with Congress, the CPI also participated in the country’s freedom struggle.
“No one has the right to certify, whether my party is national or I am national. Nobody has the right to teach what is patriotism. We know the price that we paid for the independence and the sacrifices fighting against the British,” he said.
He also said that the composite culture of the country must be preserved. “It is the reason why all ous are here and let us preserve the pluralist character of the country,” he said.
Raja also said that the parliamentary democracy of the country is at risk. “A big challenge is in front of us to safeguard the pluralism and democracy of the country.
“The progress and prosperity of the country can be achieved by uniting all,” he said.
Referring to B.R. Ambedkar’s remarks that if India becomes a Hindu rashtra then it will be the biggest calamity, Raja said, “This is what RSS is saying. But the new India should be enlightened India and not the Hindu India.”
National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah slammed the central government saying that India faces threat from within and not from outside.
“We don’t face any threat from outside, whether it is China and Pakistan. We are capable of handling them but the country faces threat from the people within the country,”
He also said that “there are thieves sitting inside the country, who are ruining everything”.
Without naming the Modi government or the BJP, Abdullah asserted that people of Kashmir are Indians but lamented that “today we are asked about our nationality”. “Who are they to ask us about our nationality?” he asked.
He also said that the Kashmiris chose India over Pakistan at Independence because India guarantees equality.
“And I say this with pride that I am a Hindustani (Indian) Muslim,” Abdullah added.
Maintaining that BJP was talking about unity, Abdullah asked “But are they creating the atmosphere for it?”
Congress leader Azad, speaking at the conclave said that composite culture of the country is in danger and there is a need to fight the destructive forces.
He also said that the RSS people were the one who supported Britishers during the freedom struggle. “And now they are talking about nationalism,” he said.
At the outset, a minute’s silence was observed in memory of the children who died at the government hospital in Gorakhpur and farmers who had committed suicide.
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