Rahul accuses BJP of spreading fear, hatred; skips Savarkar mention at Maha rally

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Congress leader Rahul Gandhi at a public meeting during the party's 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', in Maharashtra's Buldhana district, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. Photo: PTI

Shegaon: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of spreading fear, hatred and violence and said the country can not progress under these circumstances.

The country will never benefit from hatred and those who experience violence in personal life are fearless and will never hurt others or spread ill-will in the society, said Rahul Gandhi, whose Bharat Jodo Yatra has completed 12 days in Maharashtra.

Addressing a rally organised as part of the yatra at Shegaon in Buldhana district after visiting Sant Gajanan Maharaj Temple, Rahul Gandhi, however, avoided any mention of freedom fighter V D Savarkar during his speech.

The Congress MP's critical remarks on Savarkar in the last few days had invited criticism from ally Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) and rival BJP, and also triggered statewide protests.

Describing Maharashtra as the land that has produced national icons, the former Congress president said Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, Dr B R Ambedkar, Mahatma Phule, Savitribai Phule and Shahu Maharaj, all of whom with deep roots in the state, taught unity and brotherhood, and the Bharat Jodo Yatra is taking forward their ideals.

Rahul Gandhi accused the BJP of spreading fear, hatred and violence and cautioned the country will never progress in an environment filled with animosity.

''Farmers are in fear because of lack of minimum support price for agriculture produce and crop insurance payment, while youths fear lack of employment opportunities.

The BJP is turning this fear into hatred and violence," he alleged. He said farmers in Maharashtra are committing suicide due to low price of their produce and unavailability of adequate insurance protection when their crops suffer damage in unseasonal rains or floods.

"Farmers have only one thing to ask - why their loan of Rs 50,000 or Rs one lakh is being not waived, while loans of wealthy people are being written off," the Congress leader said.

He said when the Congress-led UPA was in power at the Centre, the government had given a financial package to cultivators of Vidarbha, a region of Maharashtra prone to farmer suicides.

"If you listen to people's problems with love and affection, the fear doesn't remain. If a chief minister and the Prime Minister listen to farmers' woes with compassion and love, no farmer will commit suicide," Rahul Gandhi maintained.

The Congress MP mentioned about his meeting with a soldier earlier in the day who lost both his legs and one arm and said the trooper told him he was grievously injured and was in hospital for months.

"When I asked if he harboured hate, he replied 'he doesn't hate anyone'. He has decided this is the new life he has got and he will live courageously. Those who have experienced violence and got hurt don't have fear in their heart and do not hate anyone," said the Lok Sabha member from Kerala.

Rahul Gandhi paid tributes to Jijabai, mother of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, saying she played an important role in shaping the life of the legendary Maratha warrior king.

Tushar Gandhi, great grandson of Mahatma Gandhi who shared the dais with the Congress leader, said those who criticise the yatra and question its aim of uniting the country, are actually waiting for its division.

''Such people actually wish a division should happen. True patriots are those who sense something is wrong and do something to ensure it is rectified," Tushar Gandhi said.

NCP leaders Rajesh Tope, Rajendra Shingne, Fauzia Khan, Arun Gujarati and Eknath Khadse attended the rally along with local leaders of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray).

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