NEW DELHI: Rahul Gandhi remembered his grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi on her 33rd death anniversary and said the values she lived by were relevant at a time when narrow nationalism was trying to divide the country.
Rahul also paid tributes to India’s first home minister Sardar Patel, known as the Iron Man for unifying the 500 princely states immediately after Independence, on his birth anniversary saying the leader “was an embodiment of integrity and strength and was one of the architects of idea of India.”
“In today’s times, when our country finds itself increasingly divided in the name of a narrow nationalism, the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration is a recognition of the values she stood for,” Rahul said while addressing a gathering to confer the annual award on carnatic singer TM Krishna, whom he hailed as “an individual who is willing to raise questions that others are afraid to ask.”
Earlier in the day Rahul, along with former president Pranab Mukherjee, prime minister Manmohan Singh and a host of senior party leaders, paid tributes to Indira Gandhi at her memorial Shakti Sthal in the national capital. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi could not attend the prayers as she is not well. Rahul also attended an event to pay tributes to Sardar Patel in the central hall of parliament.
Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave: Indira Gandhi pic.twitter.com/kjlDwVslpW
— Office of RG (@OfficeOfRG) October 31, 2017
Recalling Indira Gandhi stood for an India where distinctions of caste and creed, religion and region, would be eradicated, Rahul pointed out that after Operation Bluestar, though she was advised to transfer some bodyguards out of her service, she refused, saying that she would not judge anyone on the basis of religion.
“She paid for her principles with her life, but she never compromised with her faith in India and her people,” said Rahul referring to Indira’s assassination in 1984 by two of her Sikh bodyguards.
The Congress vice president reiterated the issue of intolerance, that he has been highlighting over the past years to target the BJP.
“A view of Indianness that is one-sided, discriminatory, even warped, is being thrust upon us. The country’s heritage is now in the hands of those who are bent upon rewriting history, imposing falsehood and unscientific ideas on our people and stifling independent thinking. The liberal, tolerant Indian ethos that Indira Gandhi embodied in her life and beliefs is openly rejected and repudiated,” said Rahul.