Rahul, Priyanka’s midnight vigil for justice for Unnao, Kathua rape cases—10 takeaways

PM Modi observed a day-long fast against the Parliament wash out, but Rahul outsmarted him, by announcing a midnight candle march to show that Modi is responsible for the washout of law and order

NH Photos by Pramod Pushkarna
NH Photos by Pramod Pushkarna


Congress President Rahul Gandhi led a midnight protest by party workers at India Gate in Delhi on Thursday, April 12, against the "slumber" of Narendra Modi government over heinous rape incidents in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua and Uttar Pradesh's Unnao and to seek justice for the victims. The candle-light protest on Thursday was called at short notice and saw people converging at India Gate in sizeable numbers to express their support. The Bharatiya Janata Party was caught unawares by the protest, with Congress workers from Delhi and neighbouring areas rushing to the venue on the call of their party leader.

Congress leaders including Ahmed Patel, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Ambika Soni, Ashok Gehlot, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Kumari Selja and Sushmita Dev walked from the party headquarters at 24 Akbar Road to the India Gate along with hundreds of party workers holding candles.

Rahul Gandhi joined the protest around midnight. His sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra were also present, along with their daughter.

Similar protests had been held at India Gate after the brutal gang-rape of 23-year-old paramedical student Nirbhaya in 2012. Nirbhaya's parents were also present at the mid-night protest on Thursday night.

Rahul Gandhi had tweeted at 9.40 pm last night, asking people to join him in a silent vigil. "Like millions of Indians, my heart hurts tonight. India simply cannot continue to treat its women the way it does. Join me in a silent, peaceful, candlelight vigil at India Gate at midnight tonight to protest this violence and demand justice," he said.

The people responded. Students, families carrying kids on their shoulders, professionals, all turned out at India Gate. “This is the new Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi," said a group of students. Anti-Narendra Modi and anti-Yogi Adityanath slogans like “Beti ke hathyaron ko satta se bahar karo” and "Modi Bhagao, Beti Bachao" filled the air. Some protesters demanded death penalty for the perpetrators.

Rahul Gandhi said there were repeated incidents of violence, rape and murder of women in the country. "We want the government to take action. Today, women are feeling insecure to move out of their houses. Somewhere a child, a woman is raped, killed and we want that the government should resolve this. The women of the country should feel safe," he said.

Gandhi said it was a national issue and not a political issue. "This is an issue concerning women," he said, adding that people from all parties as well as the common man was at the India Gate. "I only want to say that the atrocities being committed against women, the government should something about it."

10 takeaways from Rahul Gandhi’s impromptu midnight vigil

  1. Long brewing discontent—stemming from demonetisation, a poorly-implemented GST, price hike, and above all failed promises—against the Modi government has come to the fore and Congress is ready to ride the wave.
  2. People from all walks of life joined the protest. Some of them were Congress karyakartas but a large chunk or the people joined spontaneously. It means a vast section of the society is deeply anguished with the Modi government.
  3. Modi observed a day-long fast to claim that the government is not responsible for the Parliament wash out, but Rahul outsmarted him, by announcing a midnight candle march to show that Modi is responsible for the washout of law and order. He invoked a very sensitive issue which touched millions of hearts. It shows he can not only match, but better his main opponent in political manoeuvring.
  4. Priyanka Gandhi joined the protest in support of Rahul. It signals her will for active participation in politics, at the time of the party’s need.
  5. The Gandhis taking to streets shows the Congress party is not going to focus only on electoral politics. It will take the fight to the BJP in this election year. The message is loud and clear—Congress workers should be ready for the direct fight in the streets.
  6. By taking to the streets, Rahul Gandhi has made it clear that he is the leader of the Opposition and he is ready to lead the Opposition forces in the street also. This will worry leaders like Mamata Banarjee, who are champions of politics of agitation.
  7. Congress brought Nirbhaya's mother to join the protest against Modi government. It hints towards the electoral strategy of the Congress Party. BJP made tall promises after Nirbhaya rape case but NCRB data shows that BJP ruled states top the list of crimes against women. Congress will keep raising this issue.
  8. Both Modi and Yogi, Hindutva icons of the BJP and Sangh Parivar, were the target of people's resentment last night. As suggested by Gujarat elections and then Uttar Pradesh bypolls, the Hindutva card is fast losing its appeal.
  9. People shouted slogans highlighting failure of the law and order in the country. Modi has so far covered his failure under the guise of nationalism and patriotism, but failures on this front are going to hit him hard. People are not going to be distracted by nationalist rhetoric or fear of Pakistan.
  10. People have started taking Congress seriously. They see Congress as a natural alternative to the BJP. Protesters were shouting slogans like 'Modi Hatao, Beti Bachao' which is enough to show that Modi himself is at the centre of the people's frustration.

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Published: 13 Apr 2018, 7:38 AM