NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remark that the BJP and its workers have suffered more in post-Independence India than the Congress and its leaders under the British rule on Thursday, invited a swipe from the Grand Old Party’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday. Posting two tweets, in the form of a prayer for the PM, Rahul said: “Lead me from ignorance to light, to truth — from darkness to light — from death to immortality. Let there be peace for all living creatures.’’ He preceded the English language tweet with a Sanskrit sloka from the Upanishad: “Asatoma Sadgamaya Tamasoma Jyotirgamaya Mrityorma Amritam gamaya Om shanti shanti shanti”.
The second tweet was an elaboration of the essence of the first: Keep me not in Unreality, but lead me towards Reality; Keep me not in Darkness (of Ignorance), but lead me towards Light (of Spiritual Knowledge); Keep me not in (Fear of) Death, but lead me towards Immortality (gained by the Knowledge of the Immortal Self beyond Death); Om (May there be) Peace, Peace, Peace. This was, obviously, Rahul’s roundabout way of saying what Modi said during the foundation-stone laying ceremony of the BJP headquarters at Deen Dayal Upadhyay Marg was not borne by truth. In other words, that the sacrifice of the Congress leaders during the Independence movement was undermined by the PM’s off-the-cuff remarks.
Modi had lamented that in the 50-60 years post-Independence, BJP leaders and workers has suffered as their work and dedication was always portrayed in negative light. “Even during the British times, the Congress party would not have faced so much adversity that we, our dedicated workers, have gone through in 50-60 years,” he had said, adding what his party did was criticised.
The Congress which has been smarting under the PM’s attack, gave a rather detailed counter in which it said the sum total of the number of years Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and other freedom fighters spent in jail during the colonial era was far more than the number of years the BJP has been in existence. Seeking an apology, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said all freedom fighters have been dishonoured by the PM’s remark. Raking up the Quit India movement, Sharma pointed out that when the Congress leaders resigned from the provincial government, Jan Sangh (later day BJP) founder, Shyama Prasad Mookherjee, had contested as an independent and became the finance minister of Bengal. After resigning from the Congress, Mookherjee had eventually joined the Hindu Mahasabha in 1939. He had later founded the Bharatiya Jan Sangh.
Current slugfest apart, Mookherjee found a berth in the Nehru Cabinet on the insistence of Mahatma Gandhi.