Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Monday made admittance on two major issues – the 1975-77 Emergency period and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots – which the BJP has been using to attack the Congress.
In an exclusive interview to News Nation, Rahul responded to a host of allegations and at the same launched hard-hitting rebuttals on the Narendra Modi government.
Here is how Rahul took on the major issues in the 23-minute-long interview to news Nation:
Rahul said former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi admitted that “Emergency as a mistake” and he admitted too. “Indira Gandhi ji imposed the Emergency and Indira Gandhi ji admitted that it was a mistake and I also admit that Emergency was a mistake,” he said.
The Emergency was imposed on this day in 1975 by the then Congress government led by Indira Gandhi. The imposition of the Emergency had then evoked a nationwide outrage and triggered a mass movement which forced Gandhi to lift it in 1977.
On 1984 anti-Sikh riots
“I have said that whatever happened in 1984 was wrong. Law should be implemented and whoever did violence and hurt people and killed them, they must be punished,” Rahul said.
Responding to Sam Pitroda’s remark on 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Rahul said what the Congress’ Overseas head said was not acceptable, adding that he had asked him to apologise. “There cannot be ‘hua toh hua’. Justice should be delivered and those who have done wrong should be punished. I have clearly told Sam Pitroda to say sorry and apologise, you should not have said this,” he said.
Rahul's remarks came in an apparent damage control exercise after an uproar over Pitroda's "hua toh hua" response to a query on the riots.
On Rafale deal
Launching a scathing attack on Narendra Modi over the controversy surrounding the Rafale fighter jet deal, Rahul challenged the prime minister for a 15-minute debate on the issue and also dared him to order an inquiry into the Rs 60,000-crore deal.
“If Narendra Modi ji had not stolen in the deal, he would have said that he will order an inquiry in five minutes. But in the last three years, Narendra Modi has neither come for a debate with me because “chowkidar ne chori ki hai,” he said.
Rahul questioned the government’s decision to choose Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as the offset partner over indigenous Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
“Ask him to come for a debate of 15 minutes with me on Rafale. I challenge he will have to bring a book, a note pad won’t do. And even after that, inquiry will be held and two names will come out – Narendra Modi and Anil Ambani because ‘Chowkidar Chor Hai’,” he said.
“Narendra Modi told French president that the contract should be given to Anil Ambani. Modi ji said jets should not be manufactured in India. HAL has been manufacturing jets for the last 70 years. It manufactured Mig, Jaguar, Mirage and PM says HAL can’t be given the contract. PM Modi tells French President that jet worth Rs 526 crore will be bought for Rs 1,600 crore,” the Congress chief added.
Asked whether the Rafale deal be renegotiated if the Congress comes to power at the Centre, Rahul said that an inquiry will be carried out to bring the wrongdoings into light.
“There will be no vindictiveness or witch-hunt. Inquiry will be held and culprits will be punished. Before cancelling the contract, we will have to ask the Defence officials. PM, who calls himself ‘chowkidar’ is not ordering an inquiry because he knows that something wrong has been done in the deal,” he said.
Responding to a question on the famous ‘hug-and-wink’ episode in the Parliament, Rahul said he had no personal enmity with the prime minister and that he only responded to Modi’s “hatred” with his “love”.
“I was listening to Prime Minister’s speech and he had so much hatred in his heart about me, my family and the Congress. I was not catching the anger thrown at me. I had love in my heart, I did not accept the gift of hatred from him. I gave him the gift of love and hugged him. I don’t hate Narendra Modi. Narendra Modi is an ideology and I am fighting it and we are going to defeat it in the elections. I have no personal enmity with him,” he said.
On contesting from Wayanad
Hitting back at the BJP for criticising his decision to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Kerala’s Wayanad, Rahul said he was fighting from Amethi too and that he chose the former as the second seat to send a message to the southern states.
“I am fighting from Amethi also. Modi’s politics in south India – Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Odisha – gave these states an impression that there is no place for them in India. He seemed to tell the southern states that country will run from Nagpur and Chennai has nothing to do with it. To give South India a message, I am fighting from two places,” he said.
The BJP has been has been targeting him for contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Wayanad in Kerala which has a sizeable Muslim population. Wayanad will witness a triangular contest with Left Front constituent CPI's P P Suneer and BJP-backed NDA candidate Thushar Vellappally also in the fray.
On note ban and GST
Rahul alleged that PM Modi destroyed the nation’s economy by implementing demonetisation and the GST.
“He implemented demonetisation, Gabbar Singh Tax without asking anyone. He defunct Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes without discussing with the Finance Minister, Finance Ministry. The RBI Governor did not know about it,” he said.
“The truth is the youth of the nation is talking about unemployment, corruption, farmers’ plight and the attack Narendra Modi ji carried out with demonetisation and GST. And it will come out clear on May 23. It will be clear on what issues the election has been fought,” the Congress chief said.
On ‘Hindu terror’
Responding to BJP’s allegation that the Congress linked the Hindu community with terrorism, Rahul said that terror has no religion. “Terrorism cannot be linked with any religion. Religion and terrorism are two different things. I have never said this. This is totally wrong,” he said.
The BJP has accused the Congress of coining the term “Hindu terror” and has tried to corner the latter for criticising the nomination of Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur – a Malegaon blast accused – as party candidate from Bhopal.
PM Modi has been attacking the Congress of hatching the 'Hindu terror' conspiracy to defame the country's religious heritage.
Rahul said the RSS has been attacking the institutions of the country and works as “instrument of advertisement”. “RSS speaks, RSS is an instrument of advertisement. RSS does not think, it is an amplifier,” he said.