A political row erupted on Thursday after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi attacked the government for allegedly ignoring former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s role in the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, even as the country celebrated the 50th anniversary of victory over Pakistan.
“The woman took 32 bullets for this country, but her name is not there even on the invitations,” Gandhi said, referring to the government’s official function in New Delhi to celebrate the 1971 War, which led to the birth of Bangladesh.
“This is because the government is afraid of truth. But I don’t care as I know what she (Indira Gandhi) has done for this country,” he said while addressing a rally at Dehradun’s Parade Ground to launch the Congress campaign for the 2022 Uttarakhand assembly elections.
However, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rejected Gandhi’s allegations, saying the day was not about remembering any politician, but soldiers.
BJP Uttarakhand unit vice-president Devendra Bhasin said, “The day is not about politicians but the bravery and sacrifices made by soldiers on the ground, which made victory possible in the 1971 war.” “That is why the BJP is focussing on soldiers and not politicians,” he added.
Stressing that India won the war in 1971 in just 13 days as the country was united and fought collectively, Gandhi alleged that now India was being divided and weakened. “Brothers are being made to fight each other. Weak are being killed. The government is operating for just 2 to 3 capitalists,” he claimed.
Gandhi also felicitated war veterans and ex-servicemen in recognition of their contribution to the country. Huge cut-outs and banners of India’s first chief of defence staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat — who died recently along with 12 others in a chopper crash in Tamil Nadu’s Coonoor — were put up in the rally.
General Rawat hailed from Uttarakhand.
However, BJP leader Devendra Bhasin objected to the use of cut-outs, alleging the Congress was misusing General Rawat’s legacy for electoral advantage. “I just want to ask them, who had called Gen Bipin Rawat a goonda; who was dancing in Goa when everyone was mourning his loss; who had stopped one rank, one pension of security forces; who had asked for proof of surgical strikes,” he said.
Recalling the martyrdom of his father and grandmother, the former Congress chief said he has relation of sacrifice with the people of Uttarakhand. “Only those who have given their blood, like you, will understand this relation of sacrifice (kurbani ka rishta). Those who haven’t made such sacrifices can’t understand this. Uttarakhand has given maximum blood for this country and it will keep doing so in future also,” he said.
Listing unemployment as the biggest problem of Uttarakhand, the Lok Sabha MP from Wayanad in Kerala said, the problem can only be solved when small and middle-level traders, shopkeepers and farmers are strengthened. He alleged that the BJP government has “destroyed these sections by just working for two to three capitalists, who it wants to benefit at the behest of these sections”.