Under attack over AgustaWestland issue, a combative Sonia Gandhi today hit back at the Modi government, saying it should “not try to frighten” Congress and that life has taught her “to fight on”, as she, Rahul Gandhi and other top party leaders courted arrest after they were stopped from marching to Parliament.
“Do not make the mistake of thinking that the Congress party is weak. We will not allow democratic institutions to be weakened or destroyed,” she said at a ‘Save Democracy’ rally held by the party at Jantar Mantar here, before they tried to march to Parliament.
A heavy police posse stopped the protesters after which Sonia, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and others courted arrest at the Parliament Street police station. They were released after a short while.
“Do not try to frighten or defame us. Life has taught me to fight on,” the Congress Chief said, in the backdrop of the bribery allegations in the VVIP chopper deal case.
- Sonia Gandhi: Vidyaarthiyon par zulm ho rhe hain. Palak jhapakte hi ye kisi ko bhi desh-drohi ghoshit kar dete hain.
- Sonia Gandhi: Loktantra ki chaahe eenth se eenth baj jaaye, inka (BJP) sirf ek hi lakshya hai ki sab kuch inke changul mein ho.
- Sonia Gandhi: Modiji aur unke rajnaetic salahkaar (pol advisors) jo apne ko sanskritik sanstha btate hain, wo logon ki pareshaani kya jaane.
- Sonia Gandhi: Jiss din paani sar kay upar chalaa jaata hai, Bharat kay log bade bado ko bhi paani pila sakte hain.
- Sonia Gandhi: Satta ki inki (BJP) bhook badhti ja rahi hai, loktantrik tarikey se chuni humari sarkar ko gira kar loktantra ki hatya ki hai.
- Sonia Gandhi: Aaj ke Uttarakhand jungle jal rhe hain aur wahan kuch nhi ho pa rha hai kyunki wahan koi sarkar nhi.
- Sonia Gandhi: Nothing new for us to fight anti-national elements.
- Sonia Gandhi: No matter how much they try to fight democracy, we will not let you succeed.
- Dr. Manmohan Singh: Cong always made sacrifices & took steps that are needed to save democracy & will continue to do so.
- Dr. Manmohan Singh: Cong is like a flowing river,no matter how many false allegations you level against it, it will not divert from its path.
- Rahul Gandhi: Aur jo bhi inke khilaaf khada hota hai, inke khilaaf bolne ki koshish karta hai, unke upar jhoothe aarop lagaaye jate hain.
- Rahul Gandhi: Aaj hindustan mein sirf do logon ki baat chalti hai, Narendra Modi ji aur Mohan Bhagwat ji.
- Rahul Gandhi: Whoever talks against Modi ji and BJP, false accusations are made on that person.
- Rahul Gandhi: They destabilized Congress Govt in Arunachal, removed elected leaders & broke all laws.
- Rahul Gandhi: Modiji talked about ‘Achhe din’ when he came to power.Almost 40% of nation is affected by drought today & he has nothing to say.
- Rahul Gandhi: Modiji ki sarkar ayi aur unhone achhe din ki baat ki. Aaj desh mein sookha padha hua hai, roz 50 kisaan atmahatya kar rhe hain.
- Rahul Gandhi: To all who are assembled here. thank you for walking with us today, even in this heat.
The rally, to be held at Jantar Mantar, is being organised amid a face-off between the opposition party and the BJP led-coalition government at the Centre over a host of issues, including the AgustaWestland scandal.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will also address the rally which is being held in the backdrop of imposition of President’s rule in party-ruled Uttarakhand and Arunachal Pradesh and alleged attempts to destabilise the Congress government in Himachal Pradesh.
Rahul Gandhi is also expected to participate in a discussion on the AgustaWestland issue in Lok Sabha on Friday.
Setting the tone for the rally, party spokesman Jairam Ramesh accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of “masterminding a conspiracy to implicate” Congress leadership in the AgustaWestland case.
“The cat is out by the manner in which the Prime Minister last night tweeted and hailed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar’s reply in Rajya Sabha on the issue. It shows not only his mindset but his strategy too”, Ramesh said.
Attacking the Defence Minister, the Congress leader said in fact Parrikar’s reply was one of the “worst examples in parliamentary history” as instead of responding to issues raised by the opposition, he read out a “catalogue of accusations and charges”.
He accused Parrikar of not maintaining the dignity of a Defence Minister by “resorting to a political speech”. Ramesh said the rally was being organised to also protest against the government’s “assault” on central universities as seen in JNU, Hyderabad and Allahabad.
On whether like-minded parties like JD(U) and the Left have been invited, he said it was a Congress rally. While party leader Randeep Surjewala had last week said the party would gherao Parliament, Ramesh merely said after the rally the party would take out a march to Parliament.
Party leaders have said tomorrow’s march was also to highlight the drought and the agrarian crisis that has led to a spate of suicides by farmers and affected 40 crore people in several states.