Sonia blasts Modi..Was India a giant black hole before 2014

Mumbai, March 9: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Friday said an alternative and a regressive vision is being presented in the country and freedom as well as the society face a systematic threat. She was addressing the India Today Conclave in Mumbai.

"Our country, our society, our freedom are now all under systematic and sustained threat. There is rewriting of history, falsifying facts and fanning prejudice and bigotry," she said.

"Today we are presented with an alternative and indeed regressive vision," Sonia said.

"Was India really a giant black hole before May 2014 and start marching to progress only four years ago. Is this not an insult to the intelligence of of our people? It is not a matter of taking credit but acknowledging India's strength," said the Lok Sabha member from Rae Bareli.

She also said callous remarks about changing the Constitution were deliberate attempts to subvert the essence of India it enshrines.

"Provocative statements from the ruling establishments are not random or accidental but a part of a dangerous design. Alternate voices are being silenced. Freedom to think, marry according to ones wishes is under attack. Religious tensions are being fuelled, vigilante mobs and private armies have been let loose," she charged.

71-year-old Sonia Gandhi alleged that there is shocking insensitivity to atrocities on Dalits and women and that the society is being polarised in a bid to win elections.

"Long standing principles that have stood the country well are being violated. Parliamentary majority is being interpreted as a licence to stifle debate and bulldoze legislations. Political opponents are being targeted through misuse of investigative agencies," she said.

Hitting out at the BJP, she said judiciary is under turmoil, freedom to differ, eat and marry is under attack and India's social DNA was being re-engineered.

"Does maximum governance mean minimum truth? Does it mean alternative facts take the place of uncomfortable reality? Take jobs for instance. Everyone knows employment situation is grim but all of a sudden we are told seven and a half million jobs were created in 2017.

"This claim was widely debunked. But, does it really make a difference? It doesn't. Because as soon as one myth is demolished another takes it place," she said.

In a deeply introspective speech, Sonia Gandhi also spoke on a wide range of topics, including her children, her own shortcomings and the role of democracy in India, the first time she has opened up since relinquishing the party president post.

Sonia noted that the Congress also needs to develop a new style of connecting with people at the organisational level.

Speaking about her own role in leadership after Congress came to power in 2004, she said that she knew Manmohan Singh would be better a prime minister than her, and that she was aware of her limitations.

"Public speaking does not come naturally to me, that is why I was called a reader than a leader," the Congress leader said.

Gandhi, 71, who was Congress president for 19 years, was replaced by her son Rahul in 2017 after internal party elections.

On being asked during the conclave's 'Q&A' session if she advises her son on party matters, Sonia said, "I try not to volunteer. Rahul wants a balance of younger people and senior leaders to revitalise the party and this is not an easy task."

Reacting on criticism of Rahul not being in the country during counting of votes in northeastern states, she said the Congress president went to see his grandmother in Italy for three days after he had done his rounds of electioneering.

Taking a question on the political role of her daughter Priyanka, Sonia Gandhi said, "Priyanka is pre-occupied with her children at the moment. It is up to her and one never knows the future." 

PTI