Sonia Gandhi leads long march against intolerance in India


Congress President Sonia Gandhi led her party’s protest march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Indian presidential palace, on Tuesday against the “continuous rising intolerance” under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government.

The party also said that an atmosphere of fear prevailed in the country.

Prior to the long march, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, party-vice president Rahul Gandhi and former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh laid a floral wreath at the statue of Mahatma Gandhi situated at New Delhi’s Parliament House.

The Congress leaders carried placards that said the party will fight communalism and no attempt should be made to disrupt the solidarity of the country.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi criticised junior foreign minister of India Gen VK Singh for his dog analogy, which the and former Indian army chief had made after a nine-month-old boy and his toddler sister, both belonging to India’s lowest social caste of Dalits, were burnt alive in an arson attack in Faridabad district.

“People are being lynched, but the PM doesn’t find it necessary to say a word,” the Congress vice-president told reporters after holding a meeting with Indian President Pranab Mukherjee. “The heart of the problem is that they believe in an ideology that is not tolerant,” Rahul Gandhi was quoted in the report.

Meanwhile, Congress leader Anand Sharma said there is an atmosphere of intolerance and fear has emerged in the country.

“We want the President to make this deaf and mute government understand this issue of rising intolerance,” India’s former Minister for External Affairs Salman Khurshid said as the Congress leaders reached their destination to give an announcement to Indian President Pranab Mukherjee to convey their reservations on the issue.

The government earlier rejected the notion that the recent developments were part of a “perception being manufactured by certain sections” against the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sonia Gandhi met the President on Monday evening but party sources termed it as “personal” meeting. The meeting came on a day Modi targeted her, saying Congress leaders had no right to talk about tolerance when they were involved in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

“Several recent incidents are part of the strategy to divide the society,” the Congress chief had said after meeting the Indian president. “Some groups that are associated with or included in Prime Minister (Narendra) Modi’s government are part of this… The Congress will fight this.”

She had also submitted a memorandum to him on the issue.