Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said that an “atmosphere of tension and violence” is prevailing in the country, while speaking at a function attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday, reported NDTV.
“We want peace and harmony to arise and strengthen in the country,” Gehlot said at the launch of “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav” programme. “We want us to move towards peace and development.”
Modi, however, avoided commenting on the matter.
There has been a rise in instances of violence and hate towards minority communities in the past few years. More recently, in December, there have been provocative speeches calling for violence against Muslims, and disruptions during Christmas celebrations and attacks on Christians.
During the event, Gehlot also countered claims that the country did not progress for over seven decades after independence, reported PTI. This is a narrative political parties use to target the Congress, which ruled for a majority of the period, he said.
He said the prime minister visited other countries and got respect because India progressed in 75 years in several fields such as science and technology and other places valued this development.
“We have a glorious history,” the chief minister said. “As we are celebrating Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav, we should remember Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, BR Ambedkar, Lokmanya Tilak and others who struggled to get us freedom and because of them we have reached here in the past 75 years after Independence.”
Gehlot said that since ancient times, India has believed in Vasudhaiva kutumbakam, which means the world is one family.
“I believe that the country and society can progress only by walking on the path of truth and non-violence,” he added. “The development will happen where there is peace and this is what we believe in.”
After the event, Rajasthan minister Pratap Singh Khachariyawas backed Gehlot’s statement on the violence in the country, reported India Today.
“It is true that there is an environment of violence and tension in the country,” Khachariyawas said. “Our leader, Rahul Gandhi, has said that several times. There is nothing wrong in what Ashok Gehlot has said.”
Bharatiya Janata Party’s Rajasthan unit chief Satish Poonia, however, said that Gehlot was criticising the country in the guise of hitting out at the prime minister.
“All Congress leaders from Rahul Gandhi to Ashok Gehlot speak in the same language, which is anti-national in nature,” he claimed.
The Rajasthan BJP posted a video on Twitter, comparing the statements given by Gehlot and Modi. The party labelled Gehlot’s speech as “Congress’ hate-filled thinking” and Modi’s as his “positive thinking”.
“There is a difference of thinking,” it tweeted. “On one hand there is hateful thinking of Congress and on the other hand the positive thinking of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji.”
Incidents of violence and tension
At a “dharam sansad”, or religious parliament, held in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar city between December 17 and December 19, Hindutva group members and seers had asked Hindus to buy weapons to commit genocide against Muslims.
Over the same weekend when the Haridwar event took place, Hindutva group Hindu Yuva Vahini had organised an event in Delhi where people took oath to “die for and kill” to make India a Hindu nation.
Meanwhile, Hindutva supremacists had attacked Christians or disrupted Christmas celebrations in many states, alleging forced conversions.
On December 29, a group of Hindutva supremacists had attacked a Dalit family residing in Tukkanatti village in Karnataka’s Belagavi district after accusing them of converting their neighbours to Christianity.
A day after Christmas, a statue of Jesus Christ was desecrated in Haryana’s Ambala Cantonment.
Last month, a widely shared video showed a group of women in a Dalit home fending off Hindutva supremacists in Karnataka’s Tumakuru district. The women questioned the men who reportedly barged into the home and tried to stop the Christmas celebrations.