Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said India is a country of Hindus and not Hindutvadis, and called for their ouster so that ‘Hindus' can run it again.
Addressing a rally that was also attended by party president Sonia Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, he accused “Hindutvadi” Prime Minister Narendra Modi of backstabbing farmers and favouring a handful of industrialists.
"This is a country of Hindus, not Hindutvadis,” he said at the meeting, a show of strength here just months ahead of assembly elections in key states like Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
“Hindutvadis have to be ousted once again and the rule of Hindus brought about in the country," he told a packed stadium.
"I am a Hindu and not a Hindutvadi,” he said, drawing a distinction between the two terms, weeks after a similar attempt by him provoked controversy.
A Hindu heart is filled with love and that of a Hindutvadi with fear and hatred, he said. A Hindu is someone who is not afraid of anyone, embraces everyone, respects all religions and seeks the truth, he added.
Gandhi said Hindus cannot be suppressed. “It has not happened in 3,000 years and it will not happen now. We are not afraid of dying,” he said.
Lashing out at “fake Hindus”, he said a Hindu is one who searches for truth, even if he has to die for it -- “Mar jaye ya kat jaye, Hindu satya ko dhoondata hai.”
“Hindutvadis want power at any cost," Gandhi said. He also used the term “sattagrah”, or hunt for power, comparing it with that for truth – “Satyagrah.”
He said Congress governments had waived farm loans because farmers are the country's backbone. And referring to the farmers' protest which led to a government climbdown on three agri laws, Gandhi said the PM stabbed the farmers in the back “because he is a Hindutvadi”.
“When the Hindu farmers stood up, the Hindutvadi said ‘I apologise'.”
He also accused the “Hindutvadi” government for the rising prices.
“If there is inflation in the country and there is suffering, then this is the work of the Hindutvadis. The Hindutvadis want power on any condition," he said at the meeting billed as a Congress protest against price rise.
Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gimlet, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel and former Madhya Pradesh CM Digvijya Singh were among the party leaders on the dais.
The rally was originally scheduled to be held in Delhi. But the Congress said the party was denied permission.
The Congress leader alleged that the media and his “three or four industrialist friends” have ruined the country in the last few years.
Priyanka Gandhi too lashed at the PM, claiming that he favoured his “industrialist friends”. Sonia Gandhi, however, did not address the rally.
Rahul Gandhi claimed that 90 percent of the corporate profits in the country are made by 20 companies. Pointing at the media covering the event, he said they are also “slaves” to them.
But they are not Hindutvadi, but Hindus who have been suppressed, he argued.
He claimed that Modi waived taxes of industrialists during the coronavirus pandemic but could not provide even buses to labourers who had to walk home for hundreds of kilometres, and “died” on the road.
He claimed India was witnessing the highest unemployment in 60 years.
“Jobs cannot be generated by two or three industrialists. Jobs are created by lakhs of small and medium businessmen and farmers,” he said.
He also alleged that China occupied Indian land in Ladakh and Arunachal Pradesh but Modi says nothing happened.
Describing 'Hindu' and 'Hindutva' as two different terms, Gandhi said Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu and his assassin Nathuram Godse a Hindutvadi.
He said the mahatma spent his entire life searching for the truth. “But in the end a Hindutvadi fired three bullets into his chest.”
A Hindutvadi spends his entire life seeking power and has nothing to do with truth and can do anything for power, even if he has to beat or kill someone, he said. "His way is Sattagrah and not Satyagrah."
He said no scripture, be it Gita or Ramayana, says “the poor have to be killed and downtrodden crushed”.
“Lord Krishna did not tell Arjuna to kill his brothers for power. It is written in Gita to fight for the truth even if you have to die,” he said.
Earlier, Priyanka Gandhi slammed the Modi-led Union government, saying it wanted to sell to its “industrialist friends” whatever the Congress had built in 70 years.
She asked what the Modi government has done for the people in the seven years of its rule.
Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi reached Jaipur too late to make it to the rally, sources said. Instead, he met the Gandhis at the airport while they were on their way back to Delhi.