Rahul Gandhi's North-South comment divides Congress

Rahul Gandhi's North-South comment divides Congress

Congress' chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also alleged that the BJP was raising 'superficial' issues on a daily basis

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. Credit: Twitter/@INCIndia

Not just the BJP, but a section in the Congress are also now finding fault with Rahul Gandhi's remarks on South Indians taking  issues more seriously than those from the North, exposing a division in the party over the former party chief's stand on issues.

On a day Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala targeted the BJP for its criticism of Rahul on the issue, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma openly expressed his opposition to the remarks and said the party never "disrespected a region" and Rahul should clarify his statement to clear "conjecture or misunderstandings".

Senior Rajya Sabha MP Kapil Sibal soon joined Sharma in taking exception to Rahul's remarks, saying the voters anywhere in the country are wise and one should not denigrate their wisdom.

Sharma, Congress Deputy Leader in Rajya Sabha who was overlooked for the post of Leader of Opposition after Ghulam Nabi Azad retired earlier this month, and Sibal were two of the 23 senior leaders known as G-23, who wrote to party president Sonia Gandhi seeking clarity on the leadership issue and placed themselves against Rahul.

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The latest flash point was a comment Rahul made in Kerala: "For the first 15 years, I was an MP in the North. I had got used to a different type of politics. For me, coming to Kerala was very refreshing as suddenly I found that people are interested in issues and not just superficially but going into detail in issues."

BJP leaders had on Monday lashed out at Rahul accusing him of being an 'opportunist,' alleging that he found fault with North Indians.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Surjewala tore into the BJP for accusing Rahul of belittling north Indians, saying the North-South divide is a "toolkit" being sold by the saffron party to news channels and public to counter its leader's call to question the government on real issues.

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Accusing the BJP of raising "superficial issues on a daily basis" to divert attention from people's issues, he said the real issues were of a "nose-diving" Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and small and medium businesses "virtually in ruin".

However, Sharma appeared not in consonance with the spokesperson and said, "Congress never divided the country. Each part of India is equally important. North India has also contributed a lot. We had front-ranking leaders of the freedom struggle - Motilal Nehru, JL Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad, Govind Vallabh Pant, Lala Lajpat Rai just to name a few."

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"After independence there have been illustrious PMs - Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Atal Bihari Vajpayee - they all represented UP. Recently it was Dr Manmohan Singh from north India, so Congress has never disrespected a region," he was quoted by ANI as saying.


He said Rahul made an observation, "perhaps sharing his personal experiences and not disrespecting any part of India or dividing". He can clarify in what context he made that observation "so that there is no conjecture or misunderstanding."

Sharma also said they are grateful to Amethi, which elected Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Capt Satish Sharma, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul.

"There is no question of being disrespectful. It's not the philosophy of Congress. We've believed in a united India," he added.

Sibal said he is nobody to comment on what Rahul said. "Rahul said it and he can explain in what context he said that. I can only say that voters wherever they are, north, south, east or west, they are wise. We must respect electors in the country and not denigrate their wisdom," he added.

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