Image Source : INDIA TV India TV Editor-in-Chief Rajat Sharma

On Day One, in his first speech as Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha, Rahul Gandhi was, to use a cricketing phrase, clean bowled while trying to perform heroics. Displaying a picture of Lord Shiva, Rahul Gandhi made a remark about Hindus, which was immediately objected to by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Rahul, while trying to explain the idea of non-violence propagated by Lord Shiva, remarked that “those who describe themselves as Hindus are spreading violence, hate and untruth”. Modi promptly stood up and said, it was improper to describe the Hindu samaj (society) as violent, and it was a serious matter. Soon afterwards, several ministers Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Kiren Rijiju, Ashwini Vaishnaw stood up and took Rahul to task. Outside the House, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, Maharashtra deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis and other BJP leaders expressed annoyance over Rahul’s remark. Amit Shah demanded Rahul should apologize before Hindu society. 

Yogi Adityanath described Hindutva as “the soul of Bharat”, which “fosters universal brotherhood”. Yogi said, by describing Hindus as violent and haters, Congress has publicly displayed its hatred towards Hindutva. In Maharashtra assembly, BJP leaders moved a resolution condemning Rahul Gandhi. By courting controversy over Hindutva, Rahul derailed all the other issues like NEET paper leak, Agniveer, farmers and pricerise.  It was only when Modi objected to his remark that Rahul Gandhi explained that he meant  to say that BJP and RSS were spreading violence, hatred and untruths. Rahul’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who had come to the Lok Sabha visitors’ gallery with her mother Sonia Gandhi to watch her brother speak, explained that Rahul’s remark was meant for BJP leaders. ‘Rahul can never insult Hindus’, she said. But the fact is: what Rahul Gandhi said about those who claim to be Hindus spreading hatred, violence and untruth, was a clear self-goal. Making such a controversial remark about Hindu society is baseless and misleading. Hindu dharma is known across the world for its ideals of tolerance. Hindus have always propagated the principles of peace and non-violence. Hindus never took recourse to violence, hatred and untruth to spread their religion. Hindus believe in the ideals of ‘Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam’ (The World Is My Family).  

Hindus believes that all living beings have human-like instincts. Hindus even worship trees and plants. There is no place for hatred in Hindu Dharma. At Hindu religious gatherings, ‘Dharma Ki Jai Ho, Adharm Ka Naash Ho’ (Let Dharma prevail and Adharma vanish) is chanted. When more than a billion Hindus believe in the ideals of non-violence and peace, how can one describe Hindus as those spreading  hatred and violence? From a political point of view, it was a clear self-goal by Rahul, who allowed Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, and Yogi Adityanath an opportunity to silence him. Who will ever believe that Hindus spread violence? Who will believe that the core concept of Hindu Dharma is baed on untruth? By describing Hindus as violent, Rahul derailed his entire speech that ran for 62 minutes. The main theme of his speech was the same old charge that Modi and his government have been “striking fear in the minds of people”. But the Leader of Opposition had no facts and figures to substantiate his charge. He was speaking in front of experienced parliamentarians who immediately questioned his assertions. 

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh rejected Rahul’s charge that Agniveer jawans who are martyred in course of duty are not given compensation. The Defence Minister told him Rs 1 crore compensation is paid when an Agniveer jawan is martyred in course of duty. Rahul also tried to mislead the house on farmers’ minimum support price, and he was promptly corrected by Agriculture Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. When Rahul made the charge that residents of Ayodhya whose land were acquired for the airport were not given compensation, Union Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw published a complete fact-sheet about compensation paid to people whose land was acquired. It seems Rahul is yet to realize the difference between speaking inside Parliament and at a public rally. After Rahul’s speech, Amit Shah appealed to the Speaker to conduct a fact-check on all remarks made by Rahul, and remove all factually incorrect remarks from the proceedings. This can surely be a big embarrassment for the opposition.