Sonia Gandhi: We must fight forces of divisiveness, hate and bigotry

Speaking at Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award function on Monday, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi appealed to the people to collectively fight against “forces of divisiveness, hate and bigotry”

Photo courtesy: Twitter/@INCIndia
Photo courtesy: Twitter/@INCIndia


The UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi appealed to people to collectively fight against “forces of divisiveness, hate and bigotry” and expressed her resolve “to oppose the ideologies that reject the composite essence of our nationhood”.

She was speaking at the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award function, where the former West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi was conferred the award for his contribution to communal harmony and peace, on Monday.

In a veiled reference to the BJP-RSS combine, Gandhi said, “We have seen that the opening of the economy and the closing of the mind is a dangerous and destructive mix.”

Outlining Gopal Gandhi’s contribution, Sonia Gandhi said, “He has been an uncompromising champion of values enshrined in our Constitution which are now under determined and systematic assault.”

Highlighting “relevance and resonance” of ‘Sadbhavana’ in the current times, she asserted that for Rajiv Gandhi, ‘Sadbhavana’ was “not just a passive acquiescence and tolerance of different points of view but active engagement - so that every citizen of India is enabled to lead a life of dignity, security and self-respect”.

“Those unsavoury trends of growing intolerance, communal polarization, growing incidence of violent crimes propelled by hatred of certain groups and of mobs taking the law in their own hand can only harm the national interest of our country,” said Manmohan Singh.

Given every year on Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday, the award was instituted in 1992 to mark his contributions to promote peace, communal harmony and fight against violence in the country. The award carries a citation and a cash award of ₹10 lakh.

“Rajiv Gandhi was an unwavering believer that India’s unity was actually derived from and strengthened by her incredible diversity. That is what Sadbhavna meant to him -- not just acceptance of, not just respect for, but most fundamentally a celebration of our society’s many diversities,” she added.

Paying his homage to Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh said that India has been witnessing disturbing trends over the past few years.

"Some disturbing trends that our country has been witnessing over the past few years call for solemn reflection. These unsavoury trends of growing intolerance, communal polarisation, growing violent crime propelled by a hatred of certain groups and of mobs taking the law in their own hands can only harm national interests,” said Manmohan Singh.

"They are an anathema to the promotion of peace, national integration and communal harmony, which are the cherished objectives enshrined in our magnificent Constitution. All of us perhaps need to pause and reflect on how we can go together and contribute to arresting these trends," Singh added.

Talking about Gopal Krishna Gandhi, the former prime minister said, “On a number of occasions, he has even pointed out that the popularly held position need not be blindly accepted but should be probed deeper to find out which is justified in light of national interest.”

Former recipients of the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award include Mother Teresa, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Lata Mangeshkar, Sunil Dutt, Dilip Kumar, Kapila Vatsyayan, KR Narayanan, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Muzaffar Ali and Shubha Mudgal.

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Published: 21 Aug 2018, 10:54 AM