"They Want To Break Country": PM On Goa Congress Leader's Constitution Remarks

The PM also used the remarks made by the Congress' South Goa candidate to attack Rahul Gandhi.

PM Modi was addressing a rally in Chhattisgarh's Mahasamund.

Seizing on the remarks by the party's South Goa candidate, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has hit out at the party and Rahul Gandhi, accusing them of insulting BR Ambedkar's Constitution and attempting to break the country.

Addressing a public meeting on Monday, Congress's South Goa candidate Viriato Fernandes had said the Indian Constitution was "forced" on Goa after its liberation from Portuguese rule and that he had said as much to senior party leader Rahul Gandhi ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

Referring to the remarks, PM Modi said at a rally in Chhattisgarh's Mahasamund on Tuesday, "The Congress's Goa candidate is saying that the Constitution of India does not apply on the state. He has clearly said the Constitution was forced upon Goa and that he had said this to Congress' 'shahzada' (prince) in the past."

The 'shahzada' jibe, a reference to the Congress' "dynastic politics", has been regularly used by the PM to refer to Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi.

"Is this not an insult to Babasaheb Ambedkar and the Constitution? Is this not meddling with the Constitution? This is all part of a well-thought-out conspiracy to break the country. Today, they are negating the Constitution in Goa, tomorrow they will try to negate BR Ambedkar's Constitution all over India," Prime Minister Modi added.

The PM's remarks are significant because the Congress has been accusing the BJP of wanting to change the Constitution if it is elected for a third term. This was also stated by BJP's six-time MP from the Uttara Kannada constituency, Anant Hegde, who had said the party had set a target of 400 Lok Sabha seats for the NDA so that the Constitution could be amended. After the comment, Mr Hegde was kept out of the list of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls. 

Countering the Congress' charge, PM Modi said, "Leave aside the BJP, even Babasaheb Ambedkar himself cannot abolish the Constitution." 

'Someone Else Decided Destiny'

Mr Fernandes, who had met Mr Gandhi as part of an NGO, 'Goencho Away', which was pressing for dual citizenship for Goans who have opted for Portuguese passports, had said, "We (during a meeting with Mr Gandhi in a hotel near Panaji) raised 12 demands before Mr Gandhi, and one of them was about (granting) dual citizenship. Mr Gandhi asked me whether the demand was constitutional. We said no." 

He said the senior Congress leader had told the delegation that the demand would not be considered if it was not constitutional.

"I explained to him that the Indian Constitution came into force on January 26, 1950. When Goa was liberated from the Portuguese rule in 1961, you (referring to the then Central government) forced the Constitution on us. We were not included in it," Mr Fernandes said.

The Congress candidate said he recalled a speech by Jawaharlal Nehru, Mr Gandhi's grandfather, in which he said that post-liberation Goa will decide its own destiny. "But our destiny was decided by someone else," he claimed. 

(With inputs from PTI)