'Save the Constitution' campaign: Rahul Gandhi, Amit Shah exchange barbs

Congress President Rahul Gandhi pays tribute to Dr B R Ambedkar at the launch of the party's nationwide "Save the Constitution" campaign at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on Monday
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday faulted Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his four-year-old government at the Centre for remaining silent when atrocities are perpetrated on Dalits and small girls are raped, which has brought disrepute to India on the world stage.

Speaking at the launch of his party’s ‘Save the Constitution’ campaign here at Talkatora Stadium, Gandhi pointed to International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde's appeal to the PM to ensure security of women in India. The Congress president said the country had not suffered such embarrassment in the last 70-years — not when Jawaharlal Nehru, PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee or HD Deve Gowda, or others, were prime ministers. The meeting, organised by the Congress Scheduled Caste cell, launched a nationwide campaign on protecting the Constitution and issues related to Dalits.

Gandhi said the country might burn, Dalits could killed, minorities subjected to violence and women raped. “But there is only one question that Modiji needs an answer for. What should he do to become the PM again?” Gandhi said.

The Congress leader said Modi is interested in only himself, and the people of India have come to understand that. He said Modi, in 2014, promised Rs 1.5 million in each bank account, 20 million jobs and better income for farmers, and is now in search of similar slogans.

The Congress leader said the PM has advised BJP legislators to not speak out of turn and provide “masala” to the media. He said the message is that the country should listen to only his ‘mann ki baat’, not of the Supreme Court, or the legislature. “But in 2019, the people of India will tell Modiji their ‘mann ki baat’,” Gandhi said. Keen to show the difference between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party, Gandhi asked party workers shouting anti-Modi slogans not to be abusive. He also told the media how the Congress, unlike BJP, was committed to freedom of the press.

Later in the day, BJP chief Amit Shah retorted that the Congress party’s 'Save the Constitution' campaign was an exercise to save the dynasty and that the opposition party's "Modi hatred" has turned into "India hatred". Shah said if there is one political party that has trampled over the Constitution in letter and spirit, time and again, it is the Congress. 

Shah also pointed to the Congress attempt at pushing for an impeachment motion against CJI Dipak Misra as part of a trend to demonise and weaken every institution that seeks to maintain its individual identity and does not "kowtow to the dynasty".

To Gandhi’s comments that Ambedkar, along with the Congress, gave the Constitution to the country, Shah said he was insulting Ambedkar, just as the Nehru-Gandhi family had humiliated him when he was alive.

The Congress president said the Modi government was weakening institutions and has placed Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh people in key posts. He said the Congress party will not allow that.

Gandhi said the government has no answers on the Rafale fighter jet deal, jeweller Nirav Modi leaving the country after committing fraud, or on former IPL commissioner Lalit Modi and industrialist Vijay Mallya. 

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