Soon after Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s speech at the 84th Congress plenary, Union Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman led the government counter attack. While speaking during a media briefing Sitharaman clearly brushed off the scathing series of accusations, calling it the “rhetoric of a loser, devoid of substance”.
“The Congress president and his party loses no opportunity to mock the Hindu religion and its rituals. The story he narrated of some priest asking him for a wall of gold for the temple is an example. This is a party that has questioned the very existence of Shri Ram. I would only suggest that he not go to quack priests but genuine ones,” said Sith-araman.
Responding to the Congress president’s remarks on BJP chief Amit Shah, Ms Sithar-aman said: “It is astonishing that the Congress president chooses to name the president of the BJP and says he is a murder accused. He has been cleared by a court. The charge does not hold, even though the charge was a complete conspiracy against him. It was a conspiracy based on fraud and you continue to say this.”
Without naming Mr Shah, Mr Gandhi had launched an attack on him in his nearly hour-long speech. “They will accept a man accused of murder as the president of the BJP, but the people will never accept the same in the Congress Party,” he had said.
On Gandhi’s accusations that the government was curbing the independence of the media and the judiciary, Ms Sitharaman reminded the Congress leader of the Emergency imposed by his grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and the controversial defamation bill, seen as an instrument to curb free speech, planned by the government led by his father Rajiv Gandhi.
“Since when has the Congress become the protector of the judiciary? Do I have to remind how Indira Gandhi treated the judiciary when one verdict went against them? Rajiv Gandhi in 1988 almost brought the bill and during that phase how many cases were filed against the media? And their son and grandson is talking about press freedom,” Sitharaman said.
She also termed as a fake narrative the attempts to share Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s name with fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi and ex-IPL chief Lalit Modi. “Rahul Gandhi pointing out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sharing a name with Nirav and Lalit Modi is an attempt at a fake narrative. Mr Gandhi, who is out on bail in the National Herald case, shares a surname with the Father of the Nation… Is that a reflection on the Mahatma? I’m not comparing the PM with Mahatma Gandhi, just the spuriousness of this comparison”, she said.