The 84th Plenary of the Congress party in New Delhi concluded with party president Rahul Gandhi making a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah.
He said, “They (people) will accept a man accused of murder as the President of the BJP, but they will never ever accept the same in the Congress Party because they hold Congress in the highest regard.”
Hitting back at the Congress chief over his attack on Amit Shah, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that it was astonishing that the Congress president chooses to make allegations against the BJP chief even though he has been cleared by a court.
"Gandhi himself is out on bail in Herald case, whereas our party President Amit Shahji, has been cleared by court," she said.
Gandhi also laid out the roadmap for the Congress party ahead of 2019 elections and said there will be major restructuring in the internal functioning of the party.
He admitted that the last Congress government was not able to meet the expectations of the people. He said, “I don't say it with happiness, but the last government we formed did not stand up to the expectations of the people. The people of the country were let down by us.”
Stressing the need for discipline, and said, “Let us put all differences aside and work together to ensure victory for the party.”
The Congress leader added that the corrupt and powerful today "control conversation" in the country and said, “They tell Muslims of India who never went to Pakistan and supported this great nation, ‘You don’t belong here’. They tell the Tamils, ‘Change your beautiful language’, they tell people of North-East, ‘We don’t like what you eat’, they tell women, ‘Dress properly or we’ll thrash you’.”
They told Gauri Lankesh and Kalburgi, question us and you will die. They tell our honest businessman to shut up and allow corrupt officers to extort their hard earned money. They tell our farmers to work for nothing.Rahul Gandhi, Congress President
In a direct hit at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi said Modi was not fighting corruption, but was "corruption himself" and under him, the country is controlled by "corrupt and powerful".
The name Modi symbolises the collusion between India’s biggest businessmen and the Prime Minister.Rahul Gandhi, Congress President
Referring to the former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Lalit Modi and diamond jeweller Nirav Modi, who are accused in different cases of fraud, he said that "Modi gives Modi Rs 30,000 crores of your money and in turn, Modi gives Modi money for marketing Modi and fighting elections".
In response, Sitharaman termed Gandhi’s attempt to link the Prime Minister with the fugitives "a fake narrative".
Responding to the above comment, BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Rahul Gandhi's rant was shameful. The way he spoke of the judiciary was irresponsible.”
Recalling the two warring sides of the epic Mahabharat, Gandhi said the BJP, like the Kauravas, fought for power, while his party, on the lines of the Pandavas, battled for truth.
Taking another jibe at the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the Congress President said, "(Mahatma) Gandhi spent 15 years in jail and died for the nation. But India must never forget that while our leader slept on the floor in jail, (Vinayak Damodar) Savarkar wrote a letter to the British begging for mercy and clemency.”
Terming Gandhi’s speech the “rhetoric of a loser” and “devoid of substance”, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the party which questioned the "fundamental existence" of Lord Ram today wants to be identified itself with the Pandavas.
Javadekar also reacted to his remarks and said, "He has insulted Hindu religion and people's faith. He has also insulted patriotism by criticing Vir Savarkar and also attacking judiciary. Nobody has accused PM personally but he has attempted to do so."
Taking the ruling BJP head-on, Gandhi said the party sought to divert people's attention from issues such as unemployment and farm distress with "fancy events".
“Instead of acknowledging the challenges facing the nation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi diverts our attention from our problems. We are being told that our problems only exist in our imagination,” he said.
Union HRD Minister and senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar responded saying he should apologise for his party's misdeeds first and then attack Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"While accusing the Modi government, he forgets that Congress did worst of genocide of Sikhs, they brought censorship in media and are known for all kinds of corruption and scams. He should first apologise for all that," Javadekar said.
Holding that his party spoke on behalf of the country, Gandhi said, "The BJP is the voice of an organisation, and the Congress is the voice of a nation.”
Gandhi voiced the hope that India would, in the next decade, play an all-important role on the global stage.
"There are two visions in the world – of US and China. In 10 years, I want to see India's vision there," he said.