Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi's speech on intolerance in Lok Sabha
Thank you madam speaker for allowing me to
intervene here today.
I listened to the prime minister a few days ago
talk about our constitution. He spoke for over
an hour and praised the people who in his
view were the architects of the document that
allows me to speak here today. He mentioned
Gandhi ji, he praised Ambedkar ji, he spoke
about the contribution of Rajendra Prasad,
Vallabh bhai Patel and he even had a couple
of words for Jawaharlal Nehru.
He spoke about the immense respect he gave
to our constitution when he placed the book on
an elephant and walked on the ground behind
Yet while I listened to the Prime Ministers
speech I could see how profoundly we differ in
our thinking. For Modi ji the people he
mentioned were intellectual heroes to be
worshipped and placed on a pedestal. They
had all the answers to India’s problems.
For me what was heroic about the people he
mentioned was their ability to listen to the
people of this country. They are my heroes
not because they had all the answers but
because they had the humility to ask the right
questions. What was heroic to me was their
ability to destroy their sense of self, or their
ego to such a degree that they crystallised into
the voice of the people they served. To me
they were heroic because they put aside their
own insecurities their failings and their desires
to listen to what India was saying. They
allowed India to speak.
For the first time in centuries they gave India
the dignity to talk. And in response India didn’t
just talk she sang so beautifully that the world
could do nothing but listen in rapt attention.
For me madam speaker - The real authors of
the constitution were people the prime minister
did not spend much time on in his speech.
They are the very people of this country.
The millions of voices rich, poor, male, female,
Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Punjabi, Marathi,
Bengali, Malayali. The Kisan, the Mazdoor, the
small business man, the big industrialist, the
widowed mother, the orphaned son. Every
single one of them including the weakest and
most powerless of them all. All Gandhiji and
his colleagues did was to love them and to
listen to them with compassion.
The constitution gives all Indians
fundamental rights. I would like to mention the
Right to Equality - Which includes equality
before law, prohibition of discrimination on
grounds of religion, race, caste, gender or
place of birth, and equality of opportunity in
matters of employment, abolition of
untouchability and abolition of titles.
Madam speaker all of us here swore an oath
to protect these rights for each one of our
citizens. It is our duty to do so.
I have today sitting in front of me an ex-chief of
the Indian Army. A general who likened two
little babies who were burned to death to
dogs. He has directly challenged the
constitution and the fundamental right to
equality by equating Dalit children to dogs.
Our Prime Minister allows this man to continue
as minister as if nothing has happened. The
Prime Minister is able to worship Ambedkar
and forget that he spent his entire life
protecting the dignity of those two little
children. He helped write the constitution so
they would never get burned. The Prime
minister is simply unable to see the
I have Sakshi Maharaja and Yogi Adityanath
sitting here in front of me. You are all aware of
the language they use. Yet the Prime Minister
Modi ji talks about defence of the country. He
talks of FDI in defence.
Mohd Akhlaq, father of a young air force
officer Mohd Sartaj who is serving our nation,
is killed in cold blood because he is a Muslim.
When asked what his message was for all of
us after his father’s brutal murder, Sartaj
responded with "Saare Jahan se accha
Hindustan Hamara, Majhab Nahi Sikhata
Aapas Mai Bair Rakhna". The man ultimately
responsible for his protection remains silent.
The Prime Minister of India does not see the
The Government talks of Skill India. Yet when
young Students with superb skills at FTII go on
strike because a mediocre man is placed in a
top end institution. The government simply
tries to crush and intimidate them. I went there
– I spoke to them. All they wanted was to be
heard. Yet the government that crushed their
voice does not see the contradiction.
Dabholkar, Pansare and Kalburgi are shot
dead in cold blood by fanatics. The Prime
Minster has nothing to say.
In Gujarat, Patidars are complaining about the
lack of opportunites for them in education.
They protest. What is the Gujarat
government’s response to the
agitation? 20,000 FIRs are filed against them
for sedition. Hundreds of them are locked
up. Since when has agitating for job and
education opportunities become sedition?
You do not even spare your own.
Former union minister Arun Shourie has said
that he has been the target of severe abuse
online by BJP supporters ever since he turned
a critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr
Shourie, a one-time admirer of Mr Modi, also
said that the BJP supporters even abused his
son, who has cerebral palsy.
Mr Shourie alleged that several of these
'influencers' were abusive on Twitter, and that
despite their continuing abuse, the PM
continued to follow them.
And as all this is going on the best talent India
has – the best writers, intellectuals and artists
of this country give their awards back as a sign
of protest. The government does not even
bother to speak to them. Arun Jaitley ji simply
says it’s all manufactured.
Why would they manufacture it?
JaitleyJi - This is not a dream like your "Make
in India" program.
This is reality.
Do you think people like Narayanmurthy,
Raghuram Rajan and P. M Bhargava have
nothing better to do then to manufacture
protest against you? They are saying it
because they are disturbed like millions of
people in this country. Give them the respect
of trying to understand what disturbs
them. Don’t brush people aside. Go and listen
Speaker madam, the prime minister talks
about economic growth and progress. At the
same time his colleagues talk about sending
Bollywood stars to Pakistan. India is
successful because we have given our people
the space to talk. We have been peaceful
because we have embraced our people and
let them be part of the conversation. Our
greatest strength is our tolerance.
Pakistan has failed because they did not allow
the voice of their people to be heard. They
have failed because their leaders crushed the
voices that were inconvenient to them. Their
biggest weakness is their intolerance. Let us
not learn the wrong lessons from them.
Gandhiji, the father of our nation gave our
people voice. He allowed people who had not
been heard for centuries to sing. Nathuram
Godse put three bullets into his chest and
I sat here and listened the other day while
Narendra Modi praised Mahatma Gandhi. I
have also seen him remain silent when his
colleague Shakshi Maharaj called Godse a
patriot. I am pretty certain the PM does not
see this contradiction either.
Will the prime minister start to listen to the
voice of our people? Or will he stand by and
watch as his colleagues trample on the voice
of this country.
Will he simply place the constitution on an
elephant and walk in front? Or will he do his
job and defend what it stands for?
Will he let our beautiful India continue to sing?
Or does he think he can condemn our nation
Thank you madam speaker.