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Sonia Gandhi accuses BJP of undermining Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy

United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday accused the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of “undermining the legacy” of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and urged the people to honour the late leader by fighting with determination to safeguard the country’s democracy.

“Nehru’s precious legacy is being undermined daily by those who rule us today. They express disdain and contempt for Nehru for all that he did to build the India that they are bent upon changing for the worse,” she said in her address at the launch of new edition of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s 2003 book ‘Nehru: The Invention of India’.

A documentary on Nehru was also released on the eve of Nehru’s birth anniversary.

Gandhi said Nehru’s core values of democratic institution building, secularism, socialist economics and foreign policy of non-alignment were being challenged by the ruling party.

She urged the people to resist such attempts. “Over the years, Congress has defended secularism in the face of violent threats. Today, we must honour Nehru by fighting with determination to safeguard our democracy against those who are undermining it.”

The former Congress chief said while it was “fashionable to decry Nehruvian socialism today”, the critics don’t take into account the circumstances of the early years of independence when massive infrastructure needed to be built and the private sector lagged the ability to invest on a large scale.

Gandhi said Nehru’s conviction was that India belonged to all its people and that the majority community has a special obligation to protect the rights and promote of well-being of the minorities.

“Nehru never believed that India was a country only for Hindu Indians. He never expected the logic that since Pakistan had been created for Indian Muslims, what remained was a state for Hindu Indians. He believed in a country for all. In policy and personal practice, he stood for an idea that embraced protection of all communities,” she said.

At the core of his socialism, she said was the conviction that in a land of extreme poverty and inequality, the objective of government policy must be welfare of the poorest, most deprived and most marginalised of its people.

‌Nehru’s economics – as her husband Rajiv Gandhi said three decades ago — over time has developed shortcomings, Gandhi added.

“Nehru with his open mind would have allowed for it to be updated with the times.”

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