Rahul Gandhi talks opposition unity as he flags off Bharat yatra

KANYAKUMARI: In his biggest public embrace of opposition unity amid attempts from various quarters at creating an anti-BJP bloc,

Congress

leader Rahul Gandhi, while launching the launch the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ here on Wednesday, said the Modi government’s “misuse” of agencies won’t “scare” any opposition leader, who will continue to fight BJP’s “divisive politics”. The widening of the arc of his attack by seemingly representing and defending all opposition leaders marks a major shift.

Rahul also said “the country is headed towards disaster” as it is facing its worst ever financial crisis, coupled with the highest ever level of unemployment and price rise.

At a public meeting on the southern tip of the country to launch the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul said the national flag — which embodies the guaranteed rights of freedom of religion and language — is under assault.

He also mentioned the “capture” of institutions by BJP. “They think they can frighten the opposition with ED, CBI, I-T. The problem is they don’t understand the people of India, that the people of India do not get scared. No matter how many hours of interrogation they resort to, not a single opposition leader is going to be scared of BJP,” Rahul said, to loud roar from the gathering by the sea under the evening clouds.

While Rahul has been speaking about “the misuse of agencies” for few months, it has largely been a focused jibe at BJP which has involved touting his recent 55 hours of interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate, and proclaiming that it had failed to browbeat him. That he chose to widen the arc of his attack by representing and defending all opposition leaders, marks a major shift.

Before coming to Kanyakumari, Rahul met Bihar chief minister and ally Nitish Kumar, while on Wednesday, DMK chief and TN CM Stalin came to Kanyakumari to welcome Rahul and then, in a symbolic gesture, handed over to him a national flag for the yatra. Stalin also joined Congress leaders in a prayer meeting at the Gandhi memorial. At the rally, Rahul thanked “my brother Stalin”. He had started the day by paying tributes at the Sriperumbudur memorial of his late father Rajiv Gandhi.

The remark on opposition is also significant because Udaipur ‘chintan shivir’ had stated that Congress will in coming years solely focus on strengthening itself.

Addressing the gathering, with entire Congress brass led by Mallikarjun Kharge, Ashok Gehlot, Digvijaya Singh and Bhupesh Baghel on the large dais, the Gandhi scion said vast number of Indians feel the need for action to unite the country because “the tricolour is under attack… every institution is under attack from BJP and RSS.”

He alleged that BJP’s idea of handing control of the country “to a few industries” is similar to that of the East India Company, the only difference being that under British it was one big company. He said, BJP also represents the “British strategy of making people fight each other to steal from them”.

While much of what Rahul said was a repetition from his old attack sheets, it was noticeable because it will form part of the five-month long narrative Congress and its leaders will propagate during the intensive mass contact through the yatra. The party has limited the yatra to around 22 kms a day, with most of the remaining time devoted to meeting people and addressing them — making clear the mobilisation plan that underpins the yatra.

As during the Delhi rally on Sunday, Rahul again said media has been controlled by BJP, and claimed that Narendra Modi cannot remain PM for a single day without media’s support.

Watch Congress leader Rahul Gandhi to live in container for next five months as Bharat Jodo Yatra kicks off

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