'President has Spoken, but PM is Silent': Sonia Gandhi Protests Against 'Intolerance'

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and deputy Rahul Gandhi led a party protest march to Rashtrapati Bhavan over what the party calls rising incidents of 'intolerance'.

New Delhi: After leading a protest march of party lawmakers to Rashtrapati Bhawan, Congress president Sonia Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi today, accusing him of "silence" amid "an atmosphere of fear, intolerance and threat" that she alleged was being scripted by organisations associated with the government.

In a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee, Mrs Gandhi said, her party has expressed serious concern over "unfortunate incidents that are happening as a part of a well-planned strategy to divide our society on purpose."

"Some organisations and people associated with the government or a part of Modi Ji's government are trying to attack the plurality of the country and promoting intolerance," she said, adding, "The President had expressed his opinion, but PM is silent which clearly shows that he approves of such incidents."

Her son and deputy Rahul Gandhi, who also marched alongside Mrs Gandhi from Parliament House to the Rashtrapati Bhawan, said, "A serving minister in the government calls two children who were burnt to death, dogs. People are being lynched, but PM stays silent."

As it began its march, the Congress had complained that the government was "muzzling dissent" by restricting the delegation to only 125 people.

A raging debate on intolerance is on after incidents like the murder of rationalists and mob killings over beef-eating or cow slaughter rumours. A number of writers, filmmakers and others have returned prestigious awards to protest against what they have called the Prime Minister's "silence."

On Monday, Mrs Gandhi had held a one-on-one meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee, who has in the last month spoken on at least three different occasions, emphasising the need for preserving pluralism, tolerance and multiplicity.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today asserted that, "This country has never been and will never be intolerant."

"There is peace and harmony in the country. There have been aberrations, but it is not right to make them an issue like this. Where is the intolerance? We are the most vibrant democracy. The atmosphere will not change only by talking. If some incident happens like the one in Karnataka, which is Congress-ruled, you cannot link it to the central government to attack. That is not fair," Mr Jaitley said.