Top Congress leader AK Antony has said the strategy to defeat the BJP and PM Narendra Modi in 2024 should not include “just minorities”, and that Hindus need to be appealed to as well.
“It’s not just minorities that you require. The majority are Hindus,” he said, speaking at the Congress foundation day function earlier this week in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram.
“Here, Muslims can go to mosques, Christians can go to churches; but when Hindu friends go to a temple or apply tilak, it’s labelled as ‘soft Hindutva’,” the former Defence Minister said, speaking in Malayalam.
“If that attitude is practiced, it will help Modi come back to power again,” he added.
“We need the support of both minority and majority communities to fight against Modi… We should be able to rally Hindus also in fighting against Modi. Congress is trying to keep all together,” Mr Antony was quoted as saying.
The BJP pitched it as a “got you” moment.
Tweeting a clip of his speech, BJP IT Cell head Ami Malviya remarked: “For the Congress, Indians are not Indians. They are divided in majority and minority, Hindu and Muslims.” He said AK Antony’s comment “explains Rahul Gandhi’s temple hopping”.
For the Congress, Indians are not Indians. They are divided in majority and minority, Hindu and Muslims. Here UPA era RM A K Antony says, Congress needs the support of Hindus to bring down Modi Govt, support of minorities not enough. That explains Rahul Gandhi’s temple hopping… pic.twitter.com/c7nUHbh3uM
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) December 28, 2022
Rahul Gandhi has been visiting prominent temples on the route of his ongoing ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, which started in Tamil Nadu’s Kanyakumari and is to conclude in Kashmir next month.
On criticism that the Congress is adopting a “soft Hindutva” line, Rahul Gandhi and others in the Congress have denied using it for politics and repeatedly said that the BJP “does not have the sole right” over faith.
During his ‘Unite India March’, Mr Gandhi has sought to differentiate Hinduism as “a religion of peace and non-violence” from Hindutva, which he sees as a communal political strategy “aimed at dividing people”.
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