Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said that the BJP and RSS are "incapable" of looking at the future and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to drive the Indian car by only looking in the rearview mirror which will lead to "one accident after another."
Gandhi addressed a massive community event at the Javits Centre organised by the Indian Overseas Congress, USA on Sunday as he wrapped up his US visit that included trips to San Francisco and Washington DC.
“Back home we have a problem, and I will tell you the problem. The BJP and the RSS are incapable of looking at the future. They're incapable. Unse aap kuch bhi poocho, woh peeche ki aur dekhte hain (You ask anything they look into the past),” he said.
He said that if you ask the BJP why a train accident happened, they will say the Congress Party did such and such thing 50 years ago, taking a swipe at the government following the Odisha train accident, one of the worst railway tragedies in the country.
The accident involving three trains has left around 275 dead and brought into focus the issue of railway safety. There has been a demand for the resignation of Railway Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw from some quarters.
Gandhi said that if you ask the BJP why they removed the periodic table from the textbooks, they will refer to what the Congress party did 60 years ago.
“Their immediate response” is to look back,” he said, adding that one cannot drive a car by looking only in the rearview mirror as that will only lead to "one accident after another."
“That is the phenomenon of Narendra Modi ji. He is trying to drive the Indian car and he only looks in the rearview mirror. And then he does not understand why this car is crashing, not moving forward. And it's the same idea with the BJP, with the RSS, all of them.
"You listen to them. You listen to their ministers. You listen to the Prime Minister, you will never find them talking about the future. They will only talk about the past and they will always blame somebody else for the past,” he said amidst applause from the Congress party members.
He said that when a train accident happened when the Congress party was in power, it did not say “it is the fault of the British that the train has crashed. No. The Congress minister remember said it is my responsibility the train has crashed. I'm resigning,” Gandhi said.
He said the fight going on in India is a fight between two ideologies in which on one side you have Mahatma Gandhi and on the other side there is Nathuram Godse.
“There is a fight going on back home - a fight between two ideologies. One that we represent and the other of course that the BJP and the RSS represent. I think the simplest way to describe this fight is on one side you have Mahatma Gandhi and on the other side, you have Nathuram Godse,” the 52-year-old former Congress president said at the community event.
Referring to Mahatma Gandhi, the Congress leader said that on one side there is a “brave man”, “NRI like you. In fact, probably the most impactful NRI that India has had in many, many years. Humble man, a simple man, but a man who believed in the future, who believed in India, propagated non-violence and search for the truth. That's the ideology that we follow. That's the ideology that all of you follow in this room.
“And then on the other side, Nathuram Godse, violent, angry, unable to face the reality of his own life. The reason he shot Gandhi was that he could not face his own life. And so, he had to take his anger out on somebody, and he chose to take his anger out on the man who represented the essence of India,” Gandhi, the former MP, said.
He said while Gandhi was open-minded and modern, Godse only spoke of the past.
“He was angry, hateful, and frankly he was scared. At the heart, he was a coward.”
He added that the challenge in India is that “there is an attack on the democratic structure of our country.
"Full-scale attack on our institutions, on our judiciary, on our media, and it is your responsibility and our responsibility to defend the idea of India," Gandhi said.
“The central piece of the idea of India is our Constitution and our democracy. Modern India cannot exist without our Constitution and without our democracy,” he said.
Gandhi said when he attends such public meetings, he sees people who believe in the idea of India, in the democratic principles of the country, in the Constitution, who believe that "we should be affectionate to each other, that we should love each other.”
Gandhi said the problem back home is that “we make excuses. And we are not accepting the reality we're faced with. The reality we're faced with is our unemployment numbers and the fact that we need to make sure that all our youngsters are productive and get a job."
“And I believe and one of the reasons I have come here is because I believe that if we want to build an India where the vast majority of our youngsters are employed, one of the things we have to think about is the bridge between India and the United States. What does it look like, what does our partnership focus on and how do we compete with the challenge the Chinese have placed on the table,” he said.
He said one has to look at what is our view on the revolution in mobility, “what is our view on the revolution on data and connectivity and what is our view on the transformation that is taking place in the energy system of the world. These are the things that we should be discussing.”
Gandhi said Indians help each other no matter what and not ask questions about religion, or community.
“You will say if you need my help, I don't care which religion you're from. I'm Indian. And I'm going to help you. To be nasty to people, to be arrogant, to be violent, these are not Indian values. They're simply not Indian values. If they were Indian values, why would we be celebrating Mahatma Gandhi, Guru Nanak and Ambedkar,” he said.
He said there is a new fashion which is that “to express Indianness, you have to be hateful. To express Indianness you have to be abusive, to express Indianness, you have to beat people. No, that's not Indianness. That's something else and we refuse to accept that as Indian.”
Gandhi said he wants to visit other cities across the US and he wants to build a relationship with the diaspora across the US.
“My intention is to build a relationship with you, an affectionate, loving relationship with you where you can say to me that Rahul, this is what we think, this is how you should think about the relationship with the United States.
“I'm not interested so much in telling you what I believe. I don't want to do 'Mann ki Baat' over here,” Gandhi said, referring to Prime Minister Modi's monthly radio address to the nation, as the gathering clapped.
“I am interested not in looking at the rearview mirror but looking in front and saying brothers and sisters, how do we move forward effectively and how as a country do we spread love and affection, how are we kind to the people? That's what I'm interested in.”
As Gandhi was addressing the gathering, a man carrying a Khalistani flag stood up. Gandhi said, “Namaskar, have a nice day.”
The people in the audience gestured for the man to go out of the convention centre hall but Gandhi said: “This is Congress party's power. We're not being violent. We're not being aggressive. We're not being nasty. That is our strength. Did we shout at him? No, we didn't. We will not change our behaviour. Because you cannot cut hatred with hatred. It's impossible.”
He referred to his slogan made during the Bharat Jodo Yatra ‘Nafrat ke bazaar mean mohabbat ki dukan.”