Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said atrocities against women were both a political as well as national matter. “Rapes are a political issue,” Gandhi said at a press conference in Karnataka ahead of the May 12 Assembly elections. “Are you trying to say that politicians should remain silent while the women of this country are raped? [Narendra] Modi likes to discuss bullet train and other issues but does not like to discuss fundamental issues.”
He targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Dalit outreach attempt. “Narendra Modi doesn’t say anything when Dalits are being killed across the country,” said the Congress president. “Congress is raising Dalit issues, [because] that’s our job. When Rohith Vemula is killed, the prime minister doesn’t say a word.”
Gandhi claimed Modi is angry with everyone. “He sees a threat in me. So he is angry with me,” Gandhi said. “Yes, my mother is Italian. But she has spent a larger part of her life in India. She has suffered for this country. It shows the quality of the PM when he makes these types of comments,” he added, referring to Modi’s statement that Sonia Gandhi is more Italian than Indian.
The Congress president said the BJP will not only lose the Karnataka elections, but also those in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan later this year, and the General Elections in 2019. He added that he was confident the Congress will win the elections. “I have been travelling around Karnataka for a few months now, we all stood together and fought campaign on fundamental issues,” said Gandhi. “We’ve prepared a manifesto that is truly the voice of people. Opposition [BJP] has restricted itself to making personal remarks.”
He said that Modi only distracted people from the fundamental problems and that he never spoke about the future of the people of Karnataka. Without naming mining baron G Janardhan Reddy, Gandhi said the BJP has chosen corrupt people to campaign for the party. “PM Modi must explain why the CBI has turned into the Central Bureau of Illegal Mining? Why are corruption-tainted people who looted Karnataka are representing the BJP in Karnataka,” he asked. “[BJP chief ministerial candidate] Shri [BS] Yeddyurappa has spent time in jail. Reddy brothers have looted Rs 35,000 crore from the people of Karnataka. But PM doesn’t want to talk about it.”
Gandhi also defended his visits to different religious institutions. “Our people have different religious beliefs,” he said. “As a leader of the political party, it is my job to visit the religious institution that invites me. Throughout last 15 years, I’ve been visiting temples, mosques, gurudwaras, every religious institution I come across.” He added that the BJP does not understand the meaning of the term Hindu. “It’s a perspective. It’s something which lives with you throughout.”