Facing a severe attack from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) following party leader Rahul Gandhi’s statement comparing politics of south India with north, the Congress on Wednesday appeared to be in a damage control mode.
Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma defended Rahul Gandhi describing the statement as the former party president’s personal experience’. Sharma said it was for Rahul Gandhi to clarify his remark.
“Rahul Gandhi had made observation, perhaps sharing his personal experiences…In what context he made that observation, he can clarify so that there’s no conjecture or misunderstanding,” Anand Sharma said.
“After Independence there have been illustrious PMs – Pt Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Atal Bihari Vajpayee – they all represented UP. Recently it was Dr Manmohan Singh from north India, so Congress has never disrespected a region,” he added.
Referring to Union Minister Smriti Irani’s charge that Rahul Gandhi has been ungrateful to the people of Amethi, the region which he represented thrice in Lok Sabha, Anand Sharma said the Congress has always believed in a ‘united India’.
“When it comes to Amethi, we’re grateful to voters and respect them. Amethi elected Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Capt Satish Sharma, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. No question of being disrespectful. It’s not the philosophy of Congress. We’ve believed in a united India,” he said.
What Rahul Gandhi had said
Addressing a public gathering in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, the Wayanad MP had said, “For the first 15 years, I was an MP in the north. I had got used to a different type of politics. For me, coming to Kerala was very refreshing as suddenly I found that people are interested in issues and not just superficially but going into detail in issues.”
Labelling these comments as anti-north Indians, several BJP leaders attacked Rahul Gandhi and alleged he was being an opportunist despite he and his family members having won several elections from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
Smriti Irani called him “ungrateful” and said the popular saying about such a person is “one without much knowledge blabbers more”.
Irani defeated Gandhi in his family bastion Amethi during 2019 general elections, but he won from Wayanad in Kerala, the second Lok Sabha seat he had contested from.