At the relaunch of Shashi Tharoor’s book on Jawaharlal Nehru, Gandhi said those in power bent upon changing India for the worse.
New Delhi: Former Congress president Sonia Gandhi Tuesday hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for undermining Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy.
“Nehru’s precious legacy is being undermined daily by those who rule us today,” she said on the eve of India’s first prime minister’s 129th birth anniversary.
“Those who heap disdain and contempt on Nehru are bent upon changing India for the worse,” she added.
Gandhi was speaking at the relaunch of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s book, Nehru: The Invention of India.
She further asserted that the Congress acted as a guardian of Nehru’s legacy, taking forward his vision for India with reservation for women in panchayats and the Right to Information Act.
“Congress has strived to take forward Nehru’s ideals. We have worked to deepen secularism in the face of violent threats, and socialism by the creation of a framework of rights,” she said.
At the event, Gandhi invoked Tharoor to enumerate what encompasses Nehru’s legacy for India.
“Shashi Tharoor summarises them as the core pillars of Nehruvianism — democratic institutional building, staunch pan-Indian secularism, socialist economics and foreign policy of non-alignment,” said Gandhi.
She added, “These values were integral to a vision of Indianness that is fundamentally being challenged today.”
Tharoor paid tribute to Gandhi’s efforts for being the “embodiment and the custodian of the former prime minister’s legacy.”
“If today we have a chaiwallah as PM it is because Nehru created the structures to enable everyone to aspire to the highest office in the land,” said Tharoor.
Speaking of Nehru as a man who valued the institution over the individual, both the leaders focused greatly on the reverential manner in which he treated his political opponents and his emphasis on the freedom of the press and the judiciary.
Idea of India
According to Gandhi, Nehru failed to prevent the partition of the country but he never envisaged India as a “state for Hindus.”
“Even though Pakistan was created ostensibly as a state for Indian Muslims, Nehru never saw India as a state for Hindus. India belonged to all its people and the majority had to strive to protect the minority,” she said.
Tharoor endorsed the same idea, stating that Nehru believed that the state must be above communal biases.
“He even disagreed with President Rajendra Prasad when he decided to go to inaugurate the Somnath temple,” said Tharoor.
“He believed in equal respect and equal distance from all religious communities,” he added.