Days after he hugged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament generating a controversy, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said his attempt was to fight his political battles without hatred, pointing out Hinduism teaches that one cannot be imprisoned by hostility.
Gandhi, who was the guest of honour at the formal launch of journalist Karan Thapar’s book “Devil’s Advocate: The Untold Story”, said he can hug a BJP leader and fight him politically, but he was not sure if he can expect the same from BJP.
“If there is one thing that our religion teaches us it is that you absolutely can not get imprisoned by hatred. And that’s my endeavor in a little way,” he said.
Gandhi referred to the episode in the Lok Sabha during the debate on no-confidence motion last week and said BJP MPs now move “two steps back” when he comes near them.
Gandhi began his speech by attacking the Modi government, saying “India today is colored with “a lot of hate, a lot of anger and frustration.”
He said politicians across the political divide, including him, tend to “see the world as them or us.”
Pointing to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior BJP leader L.K. Advani, who were in the audience, Gandhi said they would agree that this (‘them’ or ‘us’) was not his worldview.
“This is the design of our politics: It is confrontational and it is like a winner takes it all. But this is not how I am designed from inside and I am sure this is how many of you are designed from the inside. I am sure Mr Advani would agree with the basic idea of what I am saying,” Gandhi said.
The Congress President recalled his visit to Vietnam about ten years back to see the impact of the country’s war with America and said his boatman during ride on the Mekong river happened to be a person who had fought the Americans.
Gandhi said the man had injuries all over his body and that he had also killed an American. “But he did not hate them,” said Gandhi.
Gandhi emphasised that one can fight an opponent without hatred, and noted that hatred was “an active choice” that an individual makes.
“The point I am making is that you can fight someone with all your might but hate is a choice. It is an active choice that you make. And that is something very important to understand,” he said.
Gandhi said he can disagree with Advani and have a completely different perception about the country. “I can fight him on every single inch but he does not need to hate me,” he said.
“I can actually hug him and fight him,” Gandhi said to a loud applause.
“This is very interesting how it works because now whenever I come across BJP MPs, they sort of take two steps back… Let us fight, I will take on Narendra Modiji. All my friends sitting here, we will all take on BJP and they will fight us. But we don’t need to hate them. I don’t know if I can expect the same from them,” Gandhi said.
The event was attended by several senior Congress leaders, including Karan Singh, Digvijay Singh, Ahmed Patel. CPI-M general secretary Sitaram Yechury was also among those present.