NAGPUR: The Narendra Modi government today came under a double-barrel attack from Congress president Sonia Gandhi and vice-president Rahul Gandhi over "manifold rise in unrest among students", on the home turf of RSS here.
Addressing a rally to mark culmination of the year-long celebrations of the 125th birth anniversary of B R Ambedkar at Kasturchand Park here, Sonia asserted the legacy of the dalit icon for Congress and tore into RSS over reservation.
"The right-wing outfit is bent upon to destroy the democratic values, disturb secular fabric and alter Indian Constitution authored by Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.
"RSS wants to crush reservation for the scheduled caste, scheduled tribes, OBCs and minorities which is guaranteed to them by Constitution," she said.
In an apparent reference to RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, Sonia said Sangh is posing a "great threat' to the reservation system when it talks against it.
Seeking to blunt BJP's efforts to 'appropriate' legacy of Ambedkar, Sonia said, "Congress had given Dr Ambedkar his dues by appointing him as chairman of the Draft Committee of Constitution.
"Congress will leave no stone unturned to save the democratic values and secular fabric being destroyed by some forces. It is the constitutional duty of Congress to give protection to these factors".
Focusing her speech mainly on issue of reservation, the combative Congress chief said the Narendra Modi government is set to discriminate against women at Panchayati level by depriving them from enjoying power in their villages.
"In Haryana and Rajasthan, the BJP-ruled governments are contemplating to bring legislation asking for certain education level for contestants," she said.
Sonia said this will deprive about 80 per cent of dalit women from contesting Panchayati elections.
"The Congress regime brought the mid-day meal scheme for the children, which was a social revolution as dreamt by Ambedkar. Ambedkar received good support from the then Congress stalwarts like Jawahralal Nehru and Sardar Valabhbhai Patel," she said.
Targeting Modi, she said BJP government is "destabilising the democratically-elected Congress governments in Uttarkhand and Arunchal Pradesh".
"The students' unrest has grown manifold under the current Modi government in the country. Congress has a moral responsibility and constitutional duty to protect the backward community, dalits, minorities and the under-privileged ones and party will not fail in it..Congress has been doing this for more than 60 years," she added.
Earlier in the day, Sonia and Rahul visited memorial of Ambedkar at Deekshabhoomi here where the dalit icon had embraced Buddhism on October 14, 1956. Speaking ahead of his mother, Rahul said, "I would not let
the nation become weak due to continuous efforts by RSS to make changes in Constitution and to alter entire reservation facilities, thereby depriving a huge population of dalits in the country (sic)".
He blamed the Modi government for "growing unrest" among the students community in the country.
Referring to the suicide of HCU research scholar Rohith Vemula, Rahul said, "the Modi government is suppressing voice of dalit scholars in the country by appointing RSS-backed functionaries at top positions. HCU Vice-Chancellor is one among them who wanted to crush the dalit students there".
"I went to Hyderabad to express my solidarity with Rohith's supporters and will continue to do so wherever and whenever such injustices are done to them," he said.
The Congress vice-president alleged that RSS was running the government from "behind the curtain by appointing their own men as Officers on Special Duty (OSDs)".
He alleged that the BJP government "ineptly" handled the issue of levying excise duty on jewellery, which triggered indefinite strike by jewellers since last 40 days.
"On one hand Narendra Modi is talking about 'Make in India' and on the other hand hundreds of artisans and workers in the jewellery market are on the verge of dying since they are on an indefinite strike".
"Tomorrow, I am scheduled to meet the agitating jewellers in Jhaveri Bazar in Mumbai," he stated.
Sushilkumar Shinde, former Union Home Minister and chairman of 'Babasaheb Ambedkar 125th birth anniversary celebration committee', opposition leader in Lok Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, MPCC chief Ashok Chavan also spoke on the occasion.
A phalanx of Congress leaders including ex-Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, AICC general secretary Digvijay Singh, Veerappa Moily, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramahiah, Ashok Gehlot, Oscar Fernandes, Prithviraj Chavan were present on the occasion.