The Congress wants to contest the 2019 Lok Sabha elections on religious lines, senior BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman said in a broadside at Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday, for what she alleged, was a concerted campaign to divide people on communal lines.
Citing a report in a vernacular newspaper on Mr Gandhi's recent interaction with Muslim intellectuals, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said Mr Gandhi had been reported to have said at this meeting by the Urdu newspaper that the Congress was a Muslim party.
"Is this true... Mr Gandhi and the Congress must answer," she said.
"You can't be Janeu-dhari (a Hindu who wears the sacred thread) at one point... Muslim-dhari at another... This is playing with the people's trust," Ms Sitharaman said at a media briefing. It was a reference to the Congress describing Mr Gandhi as a Janeu-dhari Hindu after a row broke out over Mr Gandhi's religion during a visit to Somnath temple In Gujarat.
The minister accused the Congress of playing a "dangerous game", alleging the effort to divide the country on religious lines "resembles" what happened in 1947 when Pakistan was carved out of India.
She also insisted that the Congress would be responsible for any communal disturbance that might break out from now till 2019.
"If the objective is to fight the 2019 election on religious grounds, we fear that there could be a conspiracy for riots in communal sensitive areas... If there is communal tension, the responsibility lies with Congress. Because in this interaction, he has announced that the Congress is a Muslim party," Ms Sitharaman said.
She went on.
"It closely resembles what happen in 1947 when the country was divided on religious lines. The Congress party is playing a dangerous game, playing the communal division, playing up the card of religion," she said.
The Defence Minister said it is frightening that it may lead to the division and the kind of communal disharmony which prevailed which prevailed during 1947 partition. "The Congress party will be solely responsible if any disharmony plays out between now and 2019 elections," she said.
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