Congress General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi has asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to state his political position on Mahatma Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, Hindustan Times reported on Saturday. She was responding to the prime minister’s comment that he would never be able to forgive the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhopal candidate Pragya Singh Thakur for calling Godse a patriot.
“It is a cop-out,” Gandhi told the newspaper. “You are the prime minister of the country, there is a question of somebody stating that the person who killed the founder of this country and created its democratic foundation, is a patriot. It is not enough to say that in your heart, you will not forgive them. What is your position on the killer of Mahatma Gandhi?”
The Congress leader said Modi should have taken action against Thakur and stated “very clearly what he felt about Nathuram Godse”. On Friday, BJP President Amit Shah told the media that the party’s disciplinary committee would ask Thakur, and its parliamentarians Ananthkumar Hegde and Nalinkumar Kateel, who posted sympathetic tweets about Godse, to explain their statements.
At a public meeting in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur constituency on Friday, Gandhi likened Modi to actor Asrani’s character in the movie Sholay, PTI reported. “Have you seen the Sholay movie and Asrani’s role in it?” she asked the crowd. “He used to always say ‘angrezon ke zamane mein [in the time of the British]’. And in the same way Modi ji talks about Jawaharlal Nehru’s work, Indira Gandhi’s work and Rajiv Gandhi’s work. Why doesn’t he talk about his work in the last five years?”
Asked if Modi’s attacks on her father Rajiv Gandhi had made her angry, Priyanka Gandhi told Hindustan Times she had found it funny because “it shows that he is weak and has run out of substantial political arguments”.
The Congress general secretary said the party’s objective in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha elections was to defeat the BJP. “Where our organisation is weaker, we have ensured that our candidate does not damage the alliance [Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party],” Gandhi added. “However by 2022, it is completely feasible to build booth-level organisations though that is not the main focus of my assignment. My aim is to build representation in the party and to see to it that social groups, women and young people are adequately represented in our party.”
In an interview to The Hindu, she refused to predict the party’s performance in the elections. “I am not in the habit of making predictions on the number of seats, but what I can say is that the Congress has fought this election well on its own strength,” Gandhi added. “I expect our vote percentage to increase and am hopeful of improving on the number of seats we win as well.”
She said comparisons between her and her brother Rahul Gandhi, the Congress president, were party of a vicious propaganda campaign.
“The truth is that there is no comparison,” Gandhi added. “He has been in politics for 15 years and I entered politics 15 weeks back. He has massive experience, he has travelled all around the country, he understands this country, its religions, the forces that are at play within and outside it, better than most politicians I have come across do. He is far wiser than I am, and I learn from him every minute. So, to me this is a manufactured comparison.”