Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday declined to blame anybody for bridge collapse tragedy in Gujarat, saying he doesn’t want to politicise it.
“I don’t want to politicise this incident. People have died and it is disrespectful to them to politicise it,” he said in reply to a question at a press conference in Rangareddy district near Hyderabad during Bharat Jodo Yatra.
The Congress MP was asked who he would blame for the bridge collapse at Morbi which claimed more than 130 lives.
Replying to queries about Gujarat elections, he exuded confidence that the Congress will emerge victorious. He also claimed that there is strong anti-incumbency in Gujarat.
“Congress is fighting effectively. It will win. There is strong anti-incumbency,” he said.
He did not agree that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has any presence on the ground.
“AAP is only in air. It’s not there on ground,” he said adding that a false impression is being created about AAP’s strength.
The Congress leader said Party president Mallikarjun Kharge will decide his role in the elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. “Kharge Ji will decide how I am going to be utilised,” he said.
On Gujarat not being covered by his Yatra, he said the route was decided from Kanyakumari to Kashmir and it’s not possible to cover every state. “We are covering as many states possibly we can.”
Gandhi alleged that lot of damage has been done to institutional framework of the country under the BJP rule. “There has been systematic attack on different institutions. You know how press is controlled, pressurised, and threatened. It’s not just media. Judiciary, bureaucracy and all others are under attack. This is extremely damaging to the country,” he said.
“When Congress comes back to power, we are going to make sure that these institutions are freed from the grasp of RSS and certain independence is maintained in these institutions. That is our record and that is what we will do very aggressively,” he added.
Replying to another query, he said those who damaged the institutions would have to pay a price.
The Congress leader also alleged that there is massive concentration of power and capital in few hands. He said small and medium business and job creation in the country was destroyed.
He said if voted to power, Congress would ensure that business environment is fair and money is not concentrated the way it is concentrated now.
“If fitness is the goal, gym is much more effective medium than walking across the country,” he quipped when asked about criticism from some parties that Bharat Jodo Yatra is merely helping him remain fit.
He claimed that the idea of the Yatra is to fight the hatred the anger BJP is spreading across the country.
“We are walking 3,500 km across the country and we are inviting people who believe in idea of Bharat Jodo and they are joining in lakhs. This is very powerful way of demonstrating the feeling that India has inside. India does not believe in this hatred and violence that BJP is spreading.”
He claimed that many non-Congress people and workers of other parties were coming to the Yatra.
Gandhi said that he believes that the country is witnessing a fight between two ideologies, one seeking to divide the nation and spread violence and the other to bring the nation together. “Congress feels that the opposition should work together harmoniously to defeat of ideology of BJP and RSS,” he said when asked about opposition unity.
He revealed that he was 25-26 years-old and was not even in politics when he thought of undertaking a nationwide yatra. He also stated that the idea came up during general discussion several years ago. He said they had to postpone the plans due to Covid.
He claimed that the Yatra is a political way to fight BJP’s ideology and this would benefit Congress. “For me, this is a personal journey. I am getting a lot to learn and understand about India.”
“Obviously it’s political action, not a sports yatra. of couse it’s a political action against the way BJP and RSS is dividing and damaging country spreading hatred and violence,” he said in reply to another question.
“The aim of the action is to spread message that hatred and violence are weakening the country. They are anti-national activity. Indian culture is harmonious, peaceful and affectionate. Its 100 per cent political message.”
Asked if the yatra will translate into votes, Gandhi said that such questions are designed to distract from core idea of the yatra and to divert the attention of people.
He believes that the yatra is not the magic but the first step to connect with people. He said the Congress’s connect with people had not broken but weakened.