All national institutions under attack, says Rahul Gandhi at rally after launch of 'Bharat Jodo Yatra'

"They think they can frighten the Opposition using CBI, ED and Income Tax. They think so because they don’t understand the Indian people," the Congress leader said in a rally held in Kanyakumari

Rahul Gandhi addressing the rally in Kanyakumari (Twitter: @INCIndia)
Rahul Gandhi addressing the rally in Kanyakumari (Twitter: @INCIndia)

Ashlin Mathew

Kicking off the Congress party’s 3,570-km-long ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ from Kanyakumari, Wayanad MP and party leader Rahul Gandhi said that India’s national flag is under attack along with all the institutions in the country.

Gandhi used the imagery of the tricolour to underscore that the tiranga was not just three colours and a chakra on a piece of cloth, but one which represents every single Indian. It represented the religion of every single person, language and state of the country and this flag guaranteed the right to equitable life in the country, he explained.

He said the tricolour did not come easily but was earned by Indians, and it stands for every single person who lives in the country.

“BJP and RSS think that this flag is their personal property and they think they can determine single-handedly the future of this country and that of the states. They think they can frighten the Opposition using CBI, ED and Income Tax. They think so because they don’t understand the Indian people,” he underscored at the launch of the yatra.

Reaching the venue with the national flag which was handed over to him by Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin at the Mahatma Gandhi Mandapam, the Congress leader asserted that India is the institution which protects the flag. The khadi flag would be carried throughout the yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.

“India is a free media that protects this flag. India is the judiciary that protects this flag. And today, every single institution is under attack by the BJP and RSS. They think they can frighten the Opposition using the ED, CBI and Income Tax. The problem is they don’t understand the Indian people. Indian people don’t get scared. Not a single Opposition leader is going to be scared by the BJP,” he said.

At the public meeting which saw thousands in attendance, Rahul Gandhi reiterated that the BJP thinks they can divide this country along religious lines, along languages. “This country cannot be divided. This country will always remain united,” he said.

He then spoke about the fact that India was facing its worst ever economic crisis and highest level of unemployment ever seen. “The country is heading to a disaster. But you will not see any discussion on price rise or unemployment on TV. You will only see the Prime Minister. The BJP government has systematically attacked farmers, labourers and small and medium scale industry in the country. A handful of large businesses control the entire country,” he said.

Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi said he would not last a single day without them. “They control the media and they ensure the Prime Minister is on the screen every single day. In exchange, the Prime Minister carries out policies in their interests. Demonetisation, GST and the anti farm laws were all for those select businessmen,” he asserted.

He drew a parallel between the BJP and the British by stating that they are dividing India, make Indians fight with each other and then stealing from India.

Unlike the BJP and RSS, Gandhi declared, the Congress did not want to crush the voice of the people of India. “We want to listen to the wisdom of the people of India. We have to bring people together and that is the aim of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’. This yatra is designed to listen to people,” Gandhi said.

The yatra will go through 12 states and two Union Territories, but not the states due to go for Assembly polls.

Earlier in the day, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal said, “We have not involved the poll-bound states of Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. They will be focussing on the elections and not the yatra. However, all the state organisations will take out separate padayatras in their respective states for one month.”

The padayatra will continue in Tamil Nadu for four days, from September 7 to 10. From, September 11, the yatra would continue in the neighbouring state of Kerala. It will cover a distance of 511 kilometres across 21 days and eight districts in Karnataka.

Before beginning the yatra and heading to Kanyakumari later in the day, Gandhi paid floral tributes to his father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi at his memorial in Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu’s Kanchipuram district. Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in a suicide bombing in Sriperumbudur on May 21, 1991.

After handing over the flag to Rahul Gandhi in the morning, Stalin had tweeted, “Today, my brother Rahul Gandhi has begun a journey to retrieve India's soul, to uphold the lofty ideals of our Republic and to unite our country's people with love. There can be no better place than Kumari, where the Statue of Equality stands tall, to start #BharatJodoYatra”.

“At a time when communal polarisation and vicious hate campaigns are engulfing the minds of people, India's grand old party has undertaken an arduous task to unshackle India from oppression,” he added.

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