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Bharat Jodo: Rahul Gandhi Takes on RSS at Ambedkar’s Birthplace in MP, Vows to Protect Constitution

Kashif Kakvi |
Gandhi’s visit and message assume importance ahead of the Assembly polls next year in the state where tribals account for 21% and tribal and dalits jointly account for 36% of the population.
Bharat Jodo

Image credit: India Posts English

Indore: From the epicentre of Ambedkarite politics – Mhow – the birthplace of B R Ambedkar, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi gave a message of nonviolence and harmony to Indore – which has recently seen an uptick in cases of communal tension and attacks on individuals or couples owing to their faith in the last two years.

Trying to woo dalit voters, he also vowed to protect the Constitution till his last breath in presence of newly appointed Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge – one of the tallest dalit leaders of the Congress party. Kharge administered an oath to the crowd to protect the Constitution until their last breaths.

Giving a message of love and being fearless, Gandhi said, “My grandmother was shot 32 times. My father was killed in a blast. Violence was constantly perpetrated against me. Yet, there is no fear in my heart, it is just filled with love."

He explained that the hate and violence in society are an outcome of fear in the hearts of the ruling party leaders. “I fight Narendra Modi and the RSS, but there is no hatred in my heart against them. And I ask those in RSS, Narendra Modi, and Amit Shah to put an end to the hatred in their hearts and the violence will end. Your fear is damaging the country,” he said.

This was the first time when Rahul Gandhi spoke about the assassination of his father and grandmother in a public rally during his Bharat Jodo Yatra.

The Yatra which entered Madhya Pradesh on November 23 from Burhanpur, crossed Khandwa and Khargone before reaching Indore's Mhow. In the last four days, Rahul Gandhi has visited the birthplace of tribal freedom fighter Tantya Bhil in Khandwa, Omkareshwar – one of two jyotirlingas in Madhya Pradesh and offered arti on the bank of river Narmada along with his sister and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi and her family.

The fourth day of Yatra, which started from Khargone's Mortakka village, culminated in Indore’s Mhow, where Gandhi paid tribute to B R Ambedkar.

Speaking at the event, Rahul Gandhi said that the Yatra was diverted for the first time since its inception just because he wanted to come to Mhow on November 26 – Constitution Day. 

Gandhi also attacked the RSS without taking its name, as he said that an organisation did not hoist the Indian national flag for almost 50 years after the independence. "The constitution is a thought, a voice and the national flag is its emblem. The flag has no power without the Constitution," he added.

The former Congress president told the people here that the Congress party, along with leaders like Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, BR Ambedkar and others, gave their sweat and blood for the constitution. “We have a 5,000 years old civilisation, but for the first time, its citizens got the voting rights and a flag,” he said. "But the BJP and the RSS are trying to destroy it."

Speaking about the working style of RSS, he pointed out that it opposed B R Ambedkar, M K Gandhi and the Constitution before, but has begun worshipping them lately. "They worship B R Ambedkar, but oppose his Constitution. They worship Gandhi who gave a message of non-violence and to be fearless, but spread hatred and violence. […] They have no guts to destroy the Constitution openly and so, they are doing it from behind by appointing their men within the institutions,” he claimed.

Gandhi’s visit and message assume importance ahead of the Assembly polls next year in the state where tribals account for 21% and tribal and dalits jointly account for 36% of the population. Madhya Pradesh has 81 reserved seats – 47 ST and 34 SC seats out of 230 Assembly seats. In the 2018 elections, the BJP won only 34 of the reserved seats – 18 SC and 16 ST seats. This was down from the 59 reserved seats it had won in the 2013 elections – 31 ST and 28 SC seats.

“On one side, there is inflation and unemployment and on the other side, there is hatred and violence engulfing the country. Hatred and violence are manifestations of fear,” he emphasised.

Speaking to NewsClick, dalit Congress leader Devesh Jhariya pointed out that the BJP never gave importance to dalits and even after almost 20 years of rule, BJP has no dalit face in Madhya Pradesh.

"Dalits are the biggest protector of the Constitution and they can't accept any attack on it. They have queued up to protect it," he said.

After the speech, a group of dalit voters from Mhow, who had come to listen to Rahul Gandhi, unanimously said that for the first time since independence, Congress leaders are not soft on the RSS. "It looks like Gandhi is fighting against RSS with a message of love," said Parhlad Jatav, a shopkeeper.

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