NEW DELHI: Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for walking past the guard of honour while Indian national Anthem was being played in Moscow, Congress today alleged this "unhealthy disrespect for national icons stems from RSS background".
"It is a historical fact that RSS did not hoist the national flag at their headquarters in Nagpur for 52 long years after Independence. It is only after the Vajpayee government came to power in 2002, did they start hoisting the national flag," AICC Communication Department Chief Randeep Surjewala said in a statement. Alleging that the recent incident in Russia when the Prime Minister walked past the guard of honour even while the National Anthem was being played shows his "deliberate or inadvertent lack of respect for national icons", the Congress leader insisted it is "not merely a protocol gaffe".
"Modi signs on National Flag and violates Flag Code. Now walks away when Indian National Anthem is being played in Russia. Unprecedented! "Nationalism BJP/Modi "Ishtyle". Any comments from Modi Acolytes?" AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh tweeted. Former Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said on Twitter,"Spending so much time abroad seems to have made PM forget what the Indian National Anthem sounds like. He walked in Moscow as Anthem played!"
After former Law Minister and party spokesperson Ashwani Kumar said the nation is "shocked and deeply hurt" at the incident, Surjewala issued an official statement criticising the Prime Minister and suggesting a pattern behind what happened in Moscow. "The recent futile attempt of Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh to tinker with the national anthem is too fresh in people’s mind to recount. The list is long. This unhealthy disrespect for national icons, be it symbols or personalities, stems from RSS background," Surjewala said.
Maintaining that all over the world, it is customary to stand still while the national anthem is played and that the Prime Minister, especially while traveling abroad, represents 1.2 billion people of our country, the Congress leader said, "When he does not give due respect to our national anthem, he is hurting the dignity of our country."
Claiming it was not an "isolated" incident, Surjewala said Modi had in the past also shown his "utter lack of respect for symbols of national identity". "In a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister, the colours of Indian national flag were turned upside down. He autographed the national flag for an Indian chef and requested that to be handed over to President (Barack) Obama as a ‘gift'," he said. Surjewala said the incident was "insulting" to the collective dignity of the people of the nation.
"National flags and national anthems are not mere symbols. They stand for the identity, integrity and the dignity of the nation. Any mark of disrespect shown to these icons of national identity is insulting the collective dignity of the people of this nation. "It is with utmost sadness that Indian National Congress is forced to condemn the behavior of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, because of his evident lack of respect either for the national flag or the national anthem," Surjewala said. He also alleged that in his innumerable visits abroad, Prime Minister had made comments that "hurt the collective sentiments and lowered the dignity of the people of our great nation".
"His comment in South Korea that how people earlier used to think what sin they had committed to have been born in India and how this has now changed reflects utter lack of respect for Indian people and his narcissist belief that he is the only messiah to have been born in the history of our 5000 year old great civilization," Surjewala said.
Maintaining that political parties come and go, but there has always been continuity in all governments as far as maintaining the dignity of India is concerned, he said," Modi’s habit of taking domestic politics to foreign soil and denigrating previous Congress governments and Prime Ministers is in sheer bad state that speaks poorly not only of him, but is an embarrassment for all self-respecting people of this country.
Surjewala recalled that during an election campaign, Modi "more than once (deliberately?) misquoted the name of father of the nation as Mohanlal Karamchand Gandhi instead of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi."
"His and his party’s attack on Pandit Nehru, a visionary and the first Prime Minister of India, is nothing but a feeble attempt to destroy country’s own legacies. Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru are not just Congress leaders. Their legacy belongs to the whole nation, to the world. In all his wisdom, Modi and his party's behavior is reminiscent of behavior of Taliban," he said.
Surjewala said it is high time that Modi wakes up to the fact that he is not just the Prime Minister of BJP, but he is the Prime Minister of a great nation called India. In an unusual incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had yesterday begun to walk past the guard of honour presented on his arrival in Moscow for a summit meeting with President Vladimir Putin even while the national anthem was still being played and had to be pulled back by a Russian official.
After the Prime Minister stepped onto the tarmac, a Russian official made a gesture with his hand which appeared Modi misinterpreted and started walking. However, another official stopped Modi from walking following which he stepped back and stood in attention.