Rajiv did not use poll mandate to trample dissent:Sonia

Rajiv did not use poll mandate to trample dissent:Sonia

Congress president Sonia Gandhi speaks during the 75th birth anniversary celebrations of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, at KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium in New Delhi, Thursday. PTI

Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday targeted the Narendra Modi government, seeking to draw contrasts between his rule and that of former prime minister late Rajiv Gandhi.

“Rajiv Gandhi won an unprecedented majority in 1984, but he did not use the strength to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation, he did not use the mandate to destroy the independence of institutions or trample upon alternate viewpoint or dissent,” Sonia said addressing an event to commemorate the 75th birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi.

The event, organised at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium, took place under the shadow of the incidents following the dramatic arrest of former finance minister P Chidambaram as several top leaders were present in the CBI court where he was present defending his claim of being innocent.

She admitted that the challenges before the Congress, after its recent electoral debacle, were formidable.

“Electoral ups and downs are inevitable...but what must continue is the ideological struggle against the forces of divisiveness, forces that change the very nature of our society, the very idea of India that is enshrined in our constitution,” Sonia said.

Rahul Gandhi's decision to step down as Congress president was also endorsed by Sonia as an act that required immense inner strength and sought to draw a parallel in Rajiv Gandhi opting to sit in opposition after the 1989 Lok Sabha elections despite emerging as the single largest party.

“No one can emulate what Rajiv did then and what Rahul did,” Sonia said to a packed house comprising Congress leaders from panchayats across the country to Parliament.

She recalled that Rajiv kept aside interests of the Congress party and took steps to restore peace in states such as Punjab, Assam, Mizoram, Tripura and Darjeeling Hills.