- BJP had accused Rahul Gandhi of calling the Congress a "Muslim party"
- I stand with the last person in the line, Rahul Gandhi tweeted
- At a rally in UP, PM Modi referred to Rahul Gandhi's reported remarks
Rahul Gandhi, targeted by the BJP that accuses him of calling the Congress a "Muslim party", broke his silence on the controversy today by posting a tweet with the punchline, "I love all living beings. I am the Congress."
The Congress has repeatedly denied that their president ever made the remarks at a meeting with Muslim intellectuals, as reported by the Urdu newspaper "Daily Inquilaab". The comment was seized by the BJP; first Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman raised it last week and then Prime Minister Narendra Modi referred to the statement at a rally on Saturday.
Today, the 47-year-old Congress chief, who took charge of the party last December, tweeted:
I stand with the last person in the line. The exploited, marginalised and the persecuted. Their religion, caste or beliefs matter little to me.— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 17, 2018
I seek out those in pain and embrace them. I erase hatred and fear.
I love all living beings.
I am the Congress.
Over the last week, the BJP and the Congress had been sniping at each other over the reported remarks of Mr Gandhi. While the BJP called the Congress the "worst communal party", the Congress hit back with a page from history. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala said the BJP is the new version of the East India Company since it has also followed the divide and rule policy.
On Saturday, at a public meeting in Azamgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "I read in the newspapers that naamdaar (entitled) said the Congress is a party of the Muslims. I am not surprised... When the previous prime minister was in charge, he said openly that the first use of natural resources should be with Muslims".
Today, after Mr Gandhi's tweet, BJP leader Sambit Patra said, "Rahul, You may be standing in line with people at the end, but the people are not standing with you. They know the Congress 'family rule' did not do anything for them".
Most of the Muslim intellectuals at the meeting with Rahul Gandhi have denied the comments attributed to him by the Urdu daily Inquilaab.
Inquilaab reporter Mumtaz Alam Rizwi said he stood by his report, but Mr Gandhi's comments were nuanced. "I never used the term Muslim party. Rahul Gandhi said Congress is a party of Muslims. He said 'haan, (yes), because Muslims are weakened, they have become another version of Dalits in the country'," said Mr Rizwi.
On Sunday, the "Inquilab" published another report claiming its version has been corroborated by the Congress minority cell chief, who strongly denied it.