Congress President Rahul Gandhi said on Wednesday that incidents of mob lynching in India were the result of unemployment and “destruction” of small businesses due to demonetisation, and the poor implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. Gandhi was addressing a gathering at Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg, Germany.

He claimed that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had taken away protections from marginalised castes and communities, PTI reported. “They feel that tribal communities, poor farmers, lower caste people, minorities shouldn’t get the same benefits as the elite,” he alleged.

The Congress president said India began to break the shackles of caste as it transitioned from a rural to an urban country, and successive governments supported the people by putting in place certain protections as it was felt the transformation would pose risks to Dalits, oppressed castes, Adivasis and minorities. However, the Narendra Modi-led government has failed to follow this path, Gandhi said.

Gandhi said the real risk of excluding people from development is “if you don’t give people a vision in the 21st century, somebody else will give them one”.

Gandhi said that some of his own party members had not liked it when he hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament last month, PTI reported.

He also said he was unhappy to learn about the killing of Prabhakaran, whose outfit Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was responsible for the assassination of his father Rajiv Gandhi in 1991. Sri Lankan troops shot Prabhakaran dead in 2009.

“When I saw the man who killed my father lying dead in a field in Sri Lanka, I did not like it, I saw his crying children in him,” Gandhi said.

Citing the examples of the assassinations of his father and grandmother Indira Gandhi, he said the only way to move forward after violence is forgiveness. “There is no other way,” he said. “And to forgive you have to understand what exactly happened and why it happened.”

Gandhi claimed that the United States, when it invaded Iraq in 2003, stopped the Tikriti tribe from getting employment in the new government and the Army, The Indian Express reported. “And you got an insurgency that fought the US and caused massive casualties to the Americans,” he said. “That insurgency then slowly entered the empty spaces in Iraq and Syria. And then it connected with the global internet to form the horrific idea called the Islamic State group.”

India’s foreign policy

The Congress leader said that playing a balancing role between the United States and China should be one of India’s major foreign policy goals. “India has deep relations with the US,”he said, according to the Hindustan Times. “But India can’t ignore the fact that China is growing extremely fast and we need to balance our position. I think there are certain values India brings to the table. So, India and Europe’s role would be to balance the narrative.”