TIRUNELVELI: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “formidable enemy” who ‘crushed’ his opponents and vowed to send him to political oblivion by following the path of love and non-violence.
Speaking at the Educator’s Meet at St Xavier’s College in Palayamkottai, Gandhi, who is touring southern Tamil Nadu for the second day as part of his second leg of campaign, said he counted on people’s support to defeat the BJP. When a participant wanted to know if Gandhi felt it was possible to nudge the Modi government to implement his ‘good ideas’ rather than waiting to assume power which seemed ‘Utopian’, he said it could be done with the ‘powerful’ and ‘valuable’ support of the people.
“It was important to dream big, though some of it may not come true,” he said, in an obvious reference to snatching the reins of power from the BJP at the Centre. “Yes, we are fighting a formidable enemy (Modi). We are fighting an enemy that is dominating the money in this country. We are fighting an enemy that is crushing its opponents. But we have done this before. We have defeated a much bigger enemy (British) than this new enemy that has come.”
Recalling the country’s independence movement, he said the Britishers were much more powerful than Modi would ever be. “Who is Narendra Modi in comparison to the British empire? Nobody. People of this country sent the British empire back and in the same way we will send Narendra Modi back to Nagpur (RSS headquarters in Maharashtra),” he said.
Gandhi said this would be achieved without any hatred, anger or violence towards PM Modi or his party even if they may ‘abuse’ or unleash ‘violence’ against them. The Congress is an ally of the DMK in Tamil Nadu and BJP is a partner of the ruling AIADMK. The Congress leader, replying to another participant, alleged the BJP-led Centre claimed to “represent Hinduism” in several ideas they espoused, but in reality it had nothing to do with that faith.
Hinduism does not preach insulting, killing or beating up people, Gandhi asserted, alleging “but they do it.” The essence of all religions was love but the Central government’s ‘whole game’ is to ‘steal’ money of ordinary people, including farmers through initiatives like farm laws, and give it away to the biggest businesses in the country, he alleged. Later, Gandhi took a dig at the way in which the New Educational Policy (NEP) was passed and said any policy regarding education should be implemented after holding proper discussions with students and professors.
“However, this was not done in the case of NEP,” he said, adding that the Centre views education as a weapon to communalise society and push a particular ideology into the Indian system. Regarding financial autonomy given to higher education institutions, he said education is not a financial commodity. “It should be available to everybody and it is the duty of the nation to provide it. Today, everything, including education, healthcare and agriculture, is seen as a commodity. The budget for education must rise significantly. Instead of giving Rs 1,50,000 crore to five or six businesspersons amid the pandemic, it could have been given to the education system,” he added.
‘Be a mediator for the Shenbagavalli dam dispute’
Tenkasi: The farmers in the district have urged Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to be the mediator in resolving the Shenbagavalli dam dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Their demand gains significance as the Congress, which is the opposition party in Kerala now, has been denying for the repair of the particular dam, damaged in the 1964 floods. A farmers’ representative said that the dam was constructed on Kerala-Tamil Nadu border across Shenbagavalli river as per the agreement between Zamindar of Sivagiri and dominos of Thiruvangur Samasthan in 1773. “The dam helped irrigate thousands of acres of lands,” he said.