Rahul Gandhi in Hamburg: Lynching, women's safety, hugging Modi and other takeaways from Congress president's speech

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday attacked the Narendra Modi government on lynching in India, saying that it was due to anger emanating from joblessness and "destruction" of small businesses due to demonetisation and the "poorly implemented" GST. Apart from that, he also spoke about his reactions to the death of his father's assassin LTTE chief Prabhakaran and controversial hug to Modi in the Parliament. Here are the key takeaways from his speech at the Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg.

Lynching incidents, unemployment Rahul launched a scathing attack on the Modi government by referring to incidents of lynching and attacks on Dalits, saying people in India were angry and the ruling alliance was weakening support structures meant for the weaker sections. He claimed that the incidents of lynching in India were due to the anger of unemployment and demonetisation and the "poorly implemented" GST were responsible for it indirectly.

He also cited the example of Islamic State terrorist group to say that the exclusion of a large number of people from the development process could lead to the creation of insurgent groups anywhere in the world. The Congress president said the BJP government has excluded tribals, Dalits and minorities from the development narrative and "this could be a dangerous thing". "It is very dangerous in the 21st Century to exclude people," he said. "If you don't give people a vision in the 21st century, somebody else will. And that's the real risk of excluding a large number of people from the development process," Rahul said.

He also linked the incidents of lynching in India to joblessness and the lack of opportunities for the poor who, he said, were not being given equal opportunities. Rahul said the incidents of lynching were a result of the anger emanating from joblessness and destruction of small businesses due to demonetisation and poorly implemented Goods and Services Tax. Saying that the transformation taking place across the world requires certain protections for the common people, the Congress president accused the BJP dispensation of taking away these protections and hitting the informal economy through demonetisation and GST. "They (the BJP government) feel tribal communities, poor farmers, lower caste people, minorities shouldn't get the same benefits as the elite. The other thing they've done is they've started attacking the support structures created to help certain groups of people. That's not the only damage they've done," he said.

Embracing Prime Minister Narendra Modi  The Congress president also brought up the controversial moment when he had hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the Parliament during the no-confidence debate in Monsoon Session. The Congress president said certain "hateful remarks" made against him by Modi prompted him to hug him during and noted that "he didn't like and was upset by it" while adding "that some of his party members also didn't approve of it".

Congress President Rahul Gandhi at Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg, Germany on Wednesday. Twitter@INCIndia

Congress President Rahul Gandhi at Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg, Germany on Wednesday. Twitter@INCIndia

Rahul said non-violence in India was a foundational philosophy of our nationhood and the entire history while adding that "hate could not be countered with hate, and one can fight violence only by non-violence". "That's the essence of being Indian. The basic idea is this that if someone hates you, that is something that they are doing. Hate is their internal emotion, it is their reaction to the world. Responding to their hate with hate is quite foolish. It is not going to solve any problem," said Rahul in Hamburg.

"And that there are many people who actually have a lot of affection and I gave him a hug. He didn't like that..he didn't like that because..Gandhiji actually wrote it..he said the only way you can counter hate is through love," he added. The Congress leader further said: "You can't counter hate with hate because it just increases the hate. When I actually went and showed affection to the prime minister, he was taken aback, he was upset by it. But it works, it really does."

Asked if it came as a surprise for his party members, the Congress leader said: ":Yeah they were a bit..some of them didn't like it. Some of them told me later that you should not have hugged him." "...But I disagreed. I said no..I think the conversation, not only in India, the conversation in the whole world somehow people think that by hating other people you will get a solution," he added.

Women's safety

On the issue of women's safety, Rahul said that Indian men do not view the women in the country as equal and they should change their outlook towards women, even as he disagreed with the view that 'India was the most unsafe place for women'. Addressing the gathering at the Bucerius Summer School, Rahul said: "I would disagree with the idea that India is the most unsafe place for women. But it is true there is a huge amount of violence against women in India. A lot of it is visible, a lot of it is on the streets, but a huge amount of it is invisible." "It happens in houses. A woman never talks about it. I think it is a cultural issue, it is an issue of how Indian men view Indian women and I think it requires a huge amount of work to fix that problem," he added. The leader said the other component is that the level of violence in India is increasing.

"Whenever the levels of violence increase, the people who are weakest, bear the consequences the most. The fact that violence is increasing dramatically in India, women are actually getting a huge share of it." "It is a tragedy. It is the single most important thing that India needs to do is to change the way its men view Indian women. Frankly, it is going to take a huge effort, but it is the duty of every single Indian to do it," he added.

Talking about women representation in legislatures, Rahul said: "When I look at political parties, we don't see women representatives... when I look at the Parliament, Assemblies. I don't see the number of women that I should. If you don't put women in positions of power, you won't get their voice into the system." "I do a lot of work to try and get women into the system, try and get women into the party, Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and Assemblies. We are championing right now a bill on reservation for women in Parliament. "So that should be a big step going forward. A lot has been done at the lower levels in the elections, places are reserved for women. But at the end of it is a cultural issue as well. It is literally the way the Indian male view the women. He has to start viewing her as an equal, with respect. He has to start treating her with respect. I am sorry to say, that he does not," he added. "You cannot build a successful country if you do not involve its women in the process of building," the Congress leader said.

LTTE chief Prabhakaran's death

Recalling his father's (Rajiv Gandhi) assassination, Rahul said he and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were not happy after his father's killer, LTTE chief Prabhakaran was killed, as they felt "the violence inflicted upon him had impacted others, including his children".The Congress leader said he lost two members of his family due to violence.

"My grandmother (Indira Gandhi) and my father were both killed. So, I have suffered violence. I am talking actually from experience. The only way you can move forward after violence is forgiveness. There is no other way. And to forgive you have to understand what exactly happened and why it happened." He said: "To deal with it is to actually listen and act non-violently. People think this is a weakness. But, in fact this is a strength. My father was killed by a terrorist in 1991. In 2009, I saw the person who killed my father lying in a field in Sri Lanka. He went on to say: "I called up my sister Priyanka and said that this is very strange, but I am not happy. I should be celebrating that the person who is dead is the person who killed my father. But somehow I am not happy. She said: 'you are right, I am not happy either'." "The reason I wasn't happy was that I saw myself in his children. So, I realised, him lying there actually means that there are kids like me who are crying," he added.

"He might have been a bad or an evil person, but the violence that was done against him was impacting others like it had impacted me. If you go deep, you will find there is something that triggered that violence. It's not just a random event. Some action or violence done against him or her has triggered it," he also added.

Indira Gandhi was shot dead by two of her bodyguards at her official residence here on 31 October, 1984 while a suicide bomber from Sri Lanka's now vanquished Tamil Tigers group blew up Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally in Tamil Nadu on 21 May, 1991. In May 2009, Sri Lankan security forces shot dead Prabhakaran and virtually destroyed the Tamil Tigers, ending a quarter century of separatist war in the island nation. He also said that the only way one can fight violence is by non-violence. "There is no other way. You might be under the illusion that you can fight violence with violence, but it will come back. You might think that you are very powerful and that you can subdue somebody else, but they will find a way of coming back."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Aug 23, 2018 11:15:58 IST

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