Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the government on the issue of intolerance telling it not to learn the "wrong lessons" from the Pakistan and pleaded that it should listen to the people who have been "disturbed" over recent incidents.
"People like Narayana Murthy, Raghuram Rajan and P M Bhargava are among the many protesting... They are disturbed like millions of other people. Respect them and try to understand what is disturbing them. Go and listen to them," he said speaking on the debate of intolerance in the Lok Sabha.
The Congress vice president's speech was repeatedly interrupted by the Bharatiya Janata Party members, especially when he targeted Union Minister V K Singh who, he alleged, had likened two Dalit children in Haryana who were burnt to dogs to dogs.
This was strongly contested by the BJP members. The minister was not present in the House.
"Our prime minister allowed this man to continue as minister. Ambedkar spent his entire life... and wrote the Constitution so that the two children are not burnt. The prime minister is unable to see this contradiction," he said amid cries of 'shame-shame' from the Opposition benches.
"I request the government; please do not learn the wrong lessons from Pakistan. Be tolerant. Listen to your people, embrace your own people. Mahatma Gandhi gave voice to the people. Pakistan became a failure because their leaders crushed voices of their people...were intolerant. Let us not learn the wrong lessons," he said.
Gandhi regretted that the prime minister remained silent after the Dadri lynching incident despite the fact that the son of the person killed is an air force personnel.
"The ultimate responsibility for his protection is with the prime minister who remained silent", he remarked.
Hitting hard at government's dismissal of the protests by writers and artistes as "manufactured revolt", Gandhi lamented "the governemnt did not bother to speak to them. Arun Jaitley ji simply says it is manufactured. Why they will manufacture it. Arun Jaitleyji, this is not dream like your Make In India project. This is reality."
Seeking to pick holes in the government's argument, he wondered whether Narayana Murthy, Rajan and Bhargava had "nothing better to do than manufacture protest against you."
Taking a dig at some BJP leaders over the Aamir Khan issue, he said while the prime minister talks about economic growth and progress, "at the same time his colleagues are talking about sending Bollywood stars to Pakistan."
"We have given people space to talk. Let them be part of the conversation. Let us not learn the wrong lesson (from Pakistan). Their biggest weakness is intolerance", he said.
Turning to the Film and Television Institute of India students' agitation, he said all the FTII students wanted was to listen to them as a "mediocre man" was placed at the helm. "Yet the government crushed their voice".
He said the prime minister had nothing to say after the murders of rationalists like Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and M M Kalburgi.
Gandhi was also critical the way former Union Minister Arun Shourie was trolled by those whom the prime minister followed on twitter. He said these people did not spare even the son of Shourie who is affected by cerebral palsy.
Gandhi made light of the prime minister's statement that as the Gujarat Chief Minister, he had placed the Constitution on an elephant and walked along to create awareness about the document.
"We do not want the prime minister to walk like that, we want him to work (to uphold the Constitution)", he remarked.
The Congress leader's remark that BJP member Sakshi Maharaj had hailed Nathuram Godse, the killer of Mahatama Gandhi, as a "patriot", was staunchly contested by the BJP member who was present in the House.