Rahul Gandhi. Photograph:( PTI )
Gandhi said Dalits and tribals are agitating across the country and minorities are under vicious attack, while those who criticised the prime minister are sacked
Congress president Rahul Gandhi Friday said the government is at war with its own people as it wants to impose "one imagination" on 1.3 billion Indians.
He also said aspiration is turning into anger and hatred due to unfulfilled promises.
Speaking at the HT Leadership Summit, Gandhi said, India has been imagined and re-imagined for centuries and those courageous men and women who fought for country's liberty imagined a nation where all its children would be free, and where none would be discriminated on the basis of their caste, gender, religion or creed.
They imagined a tolerant and fair India, who would force no agenda on any of its friends or neighbours but guide them along the path that we had travelled: one of unity and brotherhood, Gandhi said.
"The Indian government has gone to war with its own people because it wants to impose one imagination on 1.3 billion of us. It wants to impose one singular, suffocating memory on our 1.3 billion memories," he said at the event.
Noting that the work of imagination is never over as it is always in constant flow and flux, he lamented that what one sees today is not a re-imagining."It is a defaming, a maligning of the Indian imagination."
He alleged that farmers are committing suicide by the thousands, the economy is decimated, the rupee "is on its knees", petrol prices at all-time high, the stock market has imploded and with Rs 12 lakh crore NPAs, the banking system is "jammed shut".
The informal sector, he said, was decimated as a result of demonetisation and an extremely complex multi-layered GST has led to small and medium businesses wiped out.
"Public confidence is in tatters. This my friends is the price of hatred. Aspiration is turning into anger," he noted.
Gandhi said Dalits and tribals are agitating across the country and minorities are under vicious attack, while those who criticised the prime minister are sacked.
"Fresh thinking is unwelcome," he said, adding that those in power hate thinkers like Raghuram Rajan, Amartya Sen, while institutions are being "destroyed".
"Today in India the fear is palpable. And while India burns, all they do is talk but their slogans. But their slogans have a shelf life: Make in India. Startup India. Clean India. What exactly have they translated into? Nothing.
"Because the people in charge are convinced that they have a monopoly on knowledge. They are convinced that only they understand. That no one in this country understands anything about India or the dreams of its people except them," he said.
The Congress chief said his career in politics has been about fighting for and alongside India's most vulnerable and told the gathering that he wants to be a mirror for their aspirations and voices. "I want to fight for you too", he said, adding that he has a record of delivering in the past.
"Everyone in India is a stakeholder - all of us, rich or poor, weak or strong, north or south, east or west, every voice is a part of the harmony that makes India. We don't subscribe to black or white ideologies, we don't believe in binaries. India is a partnership between all its people," he said.
Noting that "We must re-imagine that old India", he ended his brief speech at the summit with Rabindranath Tagore's poem, "Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. Where knowledge is free. Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls."