New Delhi: The Congress Thursday condemned senior party leader Janardan Dwivedi’s remarks allegedly linking ‘Indianness’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls and indicated a possible action against him.
The party, in a specially convened press meet in the morning, reacted to Dwivedi’s purported remarks that have been widely noticed in political circles.
Dwivedi, however, later in the day clarified that he did not praise Modi and did not require lessons to understand ‘Indianness’.
Reacting over Dwivedi’s comment, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) termed his Indianness remark as “absolutely right”, adding that the Congress party was facing an “internal rift”.
Congress general secretary Ajay Maken, who heads the party’s communications department, told media persons that “the party strongly condemned the comparison of Modi with Indianness”.
Maken said the Congress follows principles of Mahatama Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Kabir on “Indianness” and Modi is not even close to it.
Saying that ideological stand of the Congress on Indianness was far away from “what Dwivedi tried to define yesterday (Wednesday)”, Maken said ‘Indianness’ meant keeping all people united.
“Under Modi’s seven-month rule, there have been incidents of riots in Trilokpuri and churches are being burnt, women are being asked to produce more children, term like Ramzada is being used,” he said, asking if this was the “Indianness” which Dwivedi was talking about.
On disciplinary action against Dwivedi, Maken said the central leadership will decide on the issue soon.
Dwivedi has been quoted as saying that Modi and the BJP has been “successful in convincing people that from a social point of view they are closer to Indian citizens”.
He also reportedly said that in a way BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls was a “victory of Indianness”.
Dwivedi, who is also the party’s general secretary and viewed to be ideologically rooted in the Congress ethos, refuted having actually praised Modi.
“It’s senseless. I pity the understanding of the people who said that I praised Modi,” he said, addressing a conference in his office after Congress leader Ajay Maken’s press meet.
“Who said that Modi was a symbol of Indianness? It’s the Congress that has been the symbol of Indianness,” a visibly miffed Dwivedi said.
“What I meant was Modi and the BJP have been successful in making people believe that they are close to them and they represent the people,” he said.
Expressing surprise over “how people could go wrong”, Dwivedi said the Congress could not do what the BJP and its leaders like Modi succeeded in doing.
“They (BJP and Modi) made people believe that they were with them, the Congress could not do it and that was our failure,” Dwivedi said.
He said “people, including you, me and everybody” have limitations in understanding things and some may have “projected” it in their own way. “That’s why the controversy emerged.”
“I know what ‘Indianness’ is all about…Look at my first book, whom I made symbol of Indianness there. I don’t need lessons to understand ‘Indianness’…I understand what it is,” he said.
Union minister and BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman told media that Dwivedi was absolutely right in his remarks and the debate over it reflected internal rift in the Congress party.
“Dwivedi’s statement reflects internal rift within the Congress. He is absolutely right. There has been no internal democracy in the party,” the minister said.
“The Modi government is doing well at various fronts. Over 10 crore accounts have been opened under Pradhan Mantri JanDhan Yojana. The government has been successful in controlling prices of essentials. Is this not Indian-ness?,” she asked.
Saying Dwivedi issued a clarification only after the Congress exerted pressure on him, Sitharaman accused the party of being in “denial mode” even after eight months of its defeat in the parliamentary polls.