'BJP distorting Nehru values'

At a time when the Modi government is gung-ho over its iconic leaders, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday launched a veiled criticism of the RSS and the BJP, accusing them of “misrepresentation and distortion” of the values Jawaharlal Nehru stood for.

“In a country more diverse, more complex, more heterogeneous than any other on earth, Nehru was a great unifying force in the critical years after Independence,” said Sonia at the inauguration of the International Conference on “Nehru’s Worldview and his legacy—Democracy, Inclusion and Empowerment”, organised by the Congress to commemorate the country’s first prime minister's 125th birth anniversary.

“Jawaharlal Nehru once remarked that wealth shouts, but knowledge whispers. That whisper of knowledge about Nehru’s life and work has weakened in the recent years in our country, drowned out by misrepresentation and distortion,” she said.

Also on the dais were global leaders such as former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, former president of Ghana John Kufuor, former Nepal prime minister Madhav Nepal, former Egyptian foreign minister Amre Moussa and Queen Mother of Bhutan Dorji Wangmo Wangchuk.

In her brief inaugural address, Sonia extolled the virtues of Nehruvian ideals of secularism, parliamentary democracy, upholding of fundamental rights and pursuit of an inclusive and participatory economy. “Nehru was prescient about the consequences of allowing religion into politics. The truth of his conviction can be seen in the conflicts raging in various parts of the world in the name of religion,” she said.

The conference comes at a time when the Congress has been accusing the government of appropriating its icons such as Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Patel and more lately, Nehru.

Only last week, Sonia had accused the BJP of targeting “not just Nehru’s personality but also his ideology and contributions”.

“We must pledge today to fight those ideologies, organisations and individuals which seek to destroy the foundations of a generous India that Nehru built,” she had said at a party meeting on the eve of Nehru’s 125th birth anniversary.

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