The Congress on Monday alleged that the BJP’s ”lie factory” was working overtime as it was rattled by the people’s response to the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, and asserted that if the ruling party will be aggressive, it will be ”doubly aggressive” in response.
Addressing a press conference at the AICC headquarters here, Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh also took a dig at Union Minister Smriti Irani for her reported remarks that Rahul Gandhi should have paid tributes to Swami Vivekananda’s memorial in Kanyakumari, saying she can be provided with spectacles if she needs new ones.
Several other Congress leaders, including Pawan Khera and Manickam Tagore, countered Irani by tweeting videos of Gandhi’s visit to Vivekananda Rock Memorial ahead of the launch of the yatra.
Asked about the Congress tweeting a picture of a pair of khaki shorts on fire to take a dig at the RSS and BJP’s attack, Ramesh said those who stoked the fires of hatred, bigotry and prejudice, must be prepared to take some things back in the same coin.
”The trouble is the RSS-BJP is not used to aggressive responses from the Congress. When the Congress gives an aggressive response, they retreat. If they will be aggressive, we will be doubly aggressive. They should understand that,” Ramesh told reporters.
He, however, asserted that the objective of the Bharat Jodo Yatra is to unite people and oppose the policies of the Narendra Modi-led government at the Centre.
”The aim of Bharat Jodo Yatra is to thwart attempts to divide the country, the divisive policies and divisive intentions in the name of religion, language, caste, states. To fight the manner in which inequalities are increasing due to Modi government’s policies, there is increasing political centralisation, that is the aim of Bharat Jodo Yatra,” he said.
Hitting out at Irani for her purported remarks that Gandhi should have paid tributes at the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, Ramesh said she was ”involved in a scam” and ”does not believe in speaking the truth”.
”We have stated where Rahul Gandhi was on September 7 at 3 pm. She should answer, if she needs new glasses, we are ready to give her the glasses,” he said.
In five days of the ‘Kanyakumari to Kashmir’ yatra, a total of 102 kilometres will be completed by this evening, Ramesh said.
He said the Bharat Jodo Yatra has become a matter of concern for the BJP.
”I had said the Bharat Jodo Yatra would not be a Mann Ki Baat but about people’s concerns. I did not know it would also become a concern for the BJP. The manner in which their statements are coming and falsehoods being spread by their social media factory, it is clear that they are rattled,” the senior Congress leader said, adding that the people’s response has made the BJP nervous.
”Cabinet ministers who are involved in scams, we dont expect truth from them. This will continue…We are ready, I will not stoop to their level. Will not fall to the level of the home minister (Amit Shah) and some other ministers,” he said in an apparent reference to Shah’s T-shirt barb at Gandhi.
Shah took a dig at the former Congress president by suggesting that he was wearing a T-shirt costing over Rs 41,000 during the Bharat Jodo Yatra which started from Kanyakumari last week.
”We don’t want to go into T-shirts, vests, under wears. If you want to make an issue about T-shirts, containers and shoes, it shows that you are rattled. The lie factory (of the BJP) is working overtime,” Ramesh said and termed Shah’s comment ”childish”.
Ramesh said with the yatra in its fifth day having gone through Tamil Nadu and now in Kerala, there is ”new enthusiasm and energy” in the party organisation.
”The mobilisation at the organisational level has been very good. We wanted to rejuvenate our party. I can say that new energy and enthusiasm in the party is visible. It has been a good beginning, people’s response is very good,” he said.
”There is a lot of enthusiasm in other states as well,” he added.
He said the yatra will be in Kerala till September 30 and in Karnataka from October 1 to 22 and then will go to Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Ramesh said efforts were on and sub-yatras will be held in states not part of the route of the main yatra.
He said along with senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh, he would be going to Assam on September 16, West Bengal on September 17 and then to Odisha, Jharkhand and other states, to finalise such yatras.
The yatra will pass through Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Nilambur, Mysuru, Bellary, Raichur, Vikarabad, Nanded, Jalgaon, Indore, Kota, Dausa, Alwar, Bulandshahr, Delhi, Ambala, Pathankot and Jammu, before concluding in Srinagar.