Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the Prime Minister’s Office had turned into the “Publicity Minister’s Office” under Narendra Modi. He made the statement at an event attended by students in Manipur. Gandhi said his party would restore special status to the Northeastern states if voted to power.
“He [PM Modi] is very good at publicity,” Gandhi said. “He is very good at marketing himself.”
Later at a public rally in the state, Gandhi reiterated that his party will not allow the Citizenship Amendment Bill to be passed.
Residents of several Northeastern states have been protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, fearing that the legislation would lead to an influx of new residents that will alter the demographic composition of the states.
The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years and have faced religious persecution. Those who do not possess the required documents are also eligible for citizenship, according to the bill.
Gandhi said the prime minister does not respect cultures in India and that the Congress party does not believe in “cultural imperialism”. “Every part of the country should be allowed to express itself,” Gandhi said. “The Bharatiya Janata Party-Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh combination wants to impose one idea and crush other ideas. Their heavy-handedness is seen whenever there are protests.”
The Congress president said his party’s priority was to handle the job crisis and increase connectivity to the Northeast. “In our view, the NorthEast region is a potential manufacturing hub,” he said. “We need to make sure the fruits and vegetables that are grown are processed. We will focus on setting up food processing units in Manipur.”
Gandhi claimed that the Centre allowed banks to allocate crores of rupees to fugitive businessmen Nirav Modi but is hesitating to grant Manipur special status. “We [the Congress] will never let anybody compromise on your history, language and culture,” he said. “We do not want to allow anybody to impose themselves on Manipur, the NorthEast and the rest of India.”