As Congress marched to Rashtrapati Bhawan against "growing intolerance", Government and BJP today hit out saying "politically-displaced" people were challenging the democratic mandate and were resorting to such "dramatic actions" out of their desperation to stay relevant.
Alleging that "political intolerance" was in Congress' genes, Union Minister and senior BJP leader M Venkaiah Naidu said they are going to the "wrong address" as they should have gone to Raj Bhawans instead, as such "stray unfortunate" incidents happened in states ruled by Congress or its friendly parties.
"Congress talking about intolerance is like devil quoting scriptures," he said, adding that the mass exodus and genocide of Kashmiri Pandits happened during their regime.
"It is a well-organised effort to defame our cultural ethos which are based on time-tested traditions of accommodation and acceptance.
"This ongoing campaign is a clear effort to derail developmental momentum. They don't want Modi government to succeed. Now to say that intolerance is raising suddenly is far from truth," he said.
On Congress taking the intolerance issue to President Pranab Mukherjee, he said, "How can a party which has imposed Emergency talk about intolerance. People are laughing at them."
"What is happening is that political displaced persons are challenging the 'janadhesh" (public mandate). It is leading nowhere, as they have lost people's confidence, are desperate and are trying to stay relevant with such dramatic actions," he told PTI.
He accused the Congress of being "most intolerant" and said, "It has political intolerance in its genes. Since independence, they never tolerated dissent. Political intolerance is a genetic trait of the Congress."
Naidu said they have lost public support and mandate and are now feeling threatened after the regime change.
"They have encouraged furciferous tendencies, aligned with divisional forces and given credibility to extremists like Bhindranwale by calling him a Sant, patronised Majlis, aligned with Muslim League," he alleged.
He added that Congress did not allow their party president and former Prime Minister's body to be kept in Congress office and physically threw out another Congress president Sitaram Kesari from the chair.
Taking a dig at tearing of an ordinance of UPA Cabinet, the Union Minister said, "The country has not forgotten how badly even Dr Manmohan Singh was treated. What kind of tolerance was it when Congress vice president convened a press meet and declared that Dr Singh's Cabinet decisions deserved to be thrown in dustbin."
He said they do not have any "moral right" to accuse others for "non-existing issues" and asked how many books were banned by Congress government when it was in power, including that of Salman Rushdie.
"The anti-Sikh genocide was justified by their leaders saying 'when a big Banyan tree falls, the earth shakes'," Naidu alleged.
Naidu claimed that Congress and its political friends are "intolerant" of people's mandate and "that is the basic issue".
He said "our tolerance is all about allowing permissible differences. They did not allow freedom of expression during Emergency. They put opposition behind bars, they have amended Constitution."
He questioned what is it that did not happen earlier and the "worst kind of atrocities" have happened against dalits during Congress rule, besides communal clashes and killing of innocent people.
The Minister said for 60 years Congress has been in power, and it has an "Octopus-like" presence in most of the academic and cultural institutions. The Leftists also joined them and became beneficiaries of the patronage, he alleged.
"Both of them are trying to spoil the atmosphere," he alleged, adding that Indian people are intelligent enough and will stand up to "these bullies who are nothing more than bad losers".
Naidu also said that of the 1,200 people given Sahitya Akademi awards, only 39 have announced that they were returning their awards, of which four-five are yet to do so.
The public, he said, is now asking these so-called intelligentsia who were silent earlier on similar incidents as to "why were they silent then and why violent now".
"There are a large number of intelligentsia in the country, but these are a few of them who were favoured earlier and are now returning the favour by giving their awards back," he said.
He said "we have a commitment to development and they want to derail that by diverting the attention from the main issue.
"There were incidents during Congress regime and now too in some Congress-ruled states some stray unfortunate incidents have taken place," he said.