New Delhi: The BJP on Wednesday hit back at Rahul Gandhi for attacking the RSS and claiming that the Congress at no point during the Emergency attempted to capture India's institutional framework, saying his statement was "laughable" as his party had then ended the independence of institutions, denied media freedom and jailed dissenting voices.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar said it will take Gandhi a long time to understand Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a Hindutva organisation and ideological fountainhead of the ruling BJP, and asserted that it is the "world's biggest school of patriotism".
The RSS' role is to effect good changes in people and inspire patriotism in them, he told reporters after he was asked about Gandhi's comparison of the Hindutva organisation with radical Islamists in Pakistan.
In a conversation with Kaushik Basu, professor at the Cornell University in the US and India's former chief economic advisor, Gandhi had termed the Emergency imposed by former prime minister Indira Gandhi a "mistake". However, he added that it was fundamentally different from the current scenario as the Congress at no point attempted to capture the country's institutional framework.
Attacking the Congress leader, Javadekar said lakhs of people, including MPs and MLAs, were arrested during that time while institutions were denied any freedom.
Now for him to say that they did not target institutions is laughable, Javadekar said.
Responding to a question, the minister also rejected allegations that the Income Tax raids on the premises of filmmaker Anurag Kashyap and actor Taapsee Pannu were linked to their comments, which are seen at times critical of the BJP.
"This is too much," he said to the question and added that "probe agencies undertake investigations based on credible information and the matter later goes to courts as well."
The Income Tax Department on Wednesday raided premises linked to the filmmakers, including Kashyap, who launched the now-dissolved production house Phantom Films, Reliance Entertainment group CEO Shibhashish Sarkar and Bollywood actor Taapsee Pannu, officials said.