New Delhi: The Congress tweeted an image Monday of Khaki shorts on fire with a caption ‘to free the country from shackles of hate and undo the damage done by BJP-RSS…’ The khaki image triggered a political storm as the BJP and the RSS accused the Congress of spreading ‘hatred and contempt’ and calling it a ‘blatant instigation for violence’.
Posting the image with ‘145 days more to go’ tagline on its official handle, the Congress tweeted, “To free the country from shackles of hate and undo the damage done by BJP-RSS. Step by step, we will reach our goal” with a hashtag ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’.
The BJP lashed out at the Congress for its ‘promotion of violence and hatred’. Spokesperson Sambit Patra dubbed the yatra as ‘Bharat Todo Yatra’ and ‘Aag Lagao Yatra’.
Patra demanded that the Congress immediately take down the post. He asserted there is no room for violence in India’s constitutional scheme of things. He also cited party leader Rahul Gandhi’s meeting during the yatra with a controversial Christian pastor who allegedly insulted a Hindu goddess.
The Congress’ tweet also drew a sharp response from the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS).
RSS Joint General Secretary Manmohan Vaidya said the Congress wants to connect people through hatred. He alleged that the party’s earlier generations of leadership also harboured ‘hatred and contempt’ for the Sangh but could not stop its rise.
Vaidya addressed a press conference in Raipur after the conclusion of a three-day RSS coordination meeting. He asserted that there was ‘growing support’ for Hindutva in society.
As the BJP and the RSS hit out at the Congress, it launched a counter-attack. General secretary Jairam Ramesh said that those who ‘stoked the fires of hatred, bigotry and prejudice’ must be prepared to receive things back in the same coin.
Alleging that the Congress has had an old association with ‘fire’, Patra said Punjab was put on fire when the party was in power and Sikhs were burnt alive during the 1984 riots.
Noting that many members of RSS, the Hindutva organisation considered the BJP’s ideological mentor, have been killed in Kerala where the Congress’s yatra is going on presently, the BJP spokesperson alleged that the opposition party has signalled to ‘terrorists’ in the southern state to target their functionaries.
“This is a blatant instigation for arson and murder. This instigation has been done by the Gandhi family and the Congress at their behest,” Patra said. He claimed that Rahul Gandhi has often used the ‘fire’ metaphor. Patra pointed out that Rahul in his address at Cambridge University earlier the Congress leader had alleged the BJP has sprinkled kerosene all over the country and all it needs is one spark to catch fire. “Do you want violence in the country? Do you want people who follow the BJP-RSS ideology burnt,” Patra asked.
Hitting back, Ramesh said the RSS-BJP is not used to aggressive responses from the Congress. He said that when the opposition party gives an aggressive response they ‘retreat’.
There are numerous instances of the BJP and its ‘surrogates’ fanning ‘hatred, prejudice, lies and falsehood’, Ramesh said.
“The manner in which inequalities are increasing due to Modi government’s policies, increasing political centralisation… To fight that is the aim of Bharat Jodo Yatra,” Ramesh said.