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Modi Government Wants to Endanger Constitutional Rights, Opposition Says in Rallies

The Congress's leadership is enthused by inputs from the ground, which suggest that many people, particularly Dalits and Muslims, spoke of the need to save the constitution during the first phase of voting yesterday.
Photos: X accounts of Congress and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

New Delhi: The opposition today ripped into the prime minister, saying he was endangering the sacred constitutional guarantees that ensured equality, liberty and brotherhood, and instead selling “Modi ki Guarantee” that they said was intended only to fool the people.

Addressing a joint rally with Rahul Gandhi in Amroha in Uttar Pradesh on Saturday (April 20), Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav said, “Jinhone jumle diye, wo guarantee de rahe hain. Hamen inki guarantee nahin chahiye. Hamen samvidhan ki guarantee chahiye [Those who gave falsehoods are giving guarantees. We don’t need their guarantee. We need the constitutional guarantee].

“I appeal to the people to rise to save the constitution and democracy.”

Presenting the constitutional guarantees as a shield against “Modi ki Guarantee” is a powerful strategy that is in consonance with the democracy-in-peril narrative.

The constitution begins with the resolve to secure to all citizens justice, liberty, equality and fraternity.

The opposition group INDIA has kicked up a huge furore against the public statement made by at least four BJP leaders about the need for 400 seats in the Lok Sabha in order to change the constitution.

Rahul Gandhi echoed similar views at the Amroha rally, saying, “This time, it is an ideological fight between the opposition that is determined to save the constitution and the RSS-BJP, which is hell-bent on destroying the constitution.”

He continued: “Several BJP leaders have talked about changing the constitution. But no power in the world can change the constitution.”

Even at a rally in Bihar’s Bhagalpur early Saturday morning, Rahul had said, “Nothing will be left for the poor and deprived sections in the country if the constitution is destroyed.”

Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge has been talking about the alleged threat to constitution, telling people wherever he goes that this election will be the last opportunity for them to save Indian democracy, which would be transformed into a political system like Russia or China’s if Narendra Modi won again.

The leadership is enthused by inputs from the ground, which suggest that many people, particularly Dalits and Muslims, talked about the need for saving the constitution during the first phase of voting yesterday.

Also read: BJP-RSS Has Always Wanted to Change India’s Constitution

Addressing a meeting in Thrissur in Kerala this afternoon, Priyanka Gandhi explained the consequences if the constitutional scheme was violated on the pretext of creating a “New India”.

Warning against a governance doctrine that will prioritise force over righteousness, she said, “The very foundations of our nationhood stand at the threshold of destruction today. Laws are enacted bypassing the processes of democracy and enforced upon people against their will.

“Lakhs and lakhs of farmers from across India protest for months against laws that are thrust upon them. Some of them died, others beaten and humiliated, called terrorist and anti-national.

“An entire state is locked down without Internet and phone services for months, democracy is suspended for nine million people as the government and the media celebrate this.”

Priyanka further said: “Thousands go on hunger strike to demand their rights in Ladakh. They protest against Chinese encroachment on Indian land, but, the government says nothing.

“In this new India, the prime minister’s men speak haughtily about changing the constitution that was written with the blood of our freedom fighters and our martyrs. They treat the Constitution of India that upholds our rights of liberty, equality and brotherhood as an instrument of their own greed and ambition, as if it is a piece of paper worth nothing.

“They seek to deprive Indian citizens of the laws that protect their rights and to weaken their participation in democracy. Voices of dissent are silenced.

“Like thugs who oppress those who raise their heads in protest, the government harasses and imprisons those who dare to speak against them. Students are arrested for expressing their opinion, activists are raided and jailed.

“Journalists are sacked, beaten and imprisoned for reporting the truth and much of the media is controlled by collaborators of a government that believes in false propaganda, silence and oppression.”

She added: “Opposition leaders are imprisoned and expelled from parliament with impunity. Government agencies that are meant to protect the law are turned into unlawful extortionists and used to silence dissent.

Also read: What the World Is Reading Around India’s Lok Sabha Elections

“Uniformity of culture, religion and languages is imposed and diversity is stamped out for political gain. Laws like the CAA [Citizenship (Amendment) Act] are passed in order to segregate and fracture society; students are attacked in the temples of their learning; warring tribes massacre each other in the North-East, while the government turns away simply because it brings political benefit to do so.

“Our history is rewritten. We are told what to wear, which language to speak, which gods to revere and whole sections of society are singled out as traitors. Those in power tell women what to wear. They propagate laws that demand women’s movements to be registered with the police and they claimed the right to decide whom women can love and whom they can marry.

“The government protects rapists and defends the oppressors and abusers of women. They vilify the victims of heinous crimes, using the entire strength of their administrations to question the characters of victims of abuse.

“Our Olympic medallists protest for days on the streets, begging to be heard while their abuser is defended by the prime minister and his government.

“Women are molested and paraded naked before the entire nation in Manipur and the government does nothing. Instead, our prime minister tells us that he is fighting for the rights of women and we are told to believe him. This is the new India we are accepting today.”

Referring to crony capitalism, Priyanka said, “In this new India, policies are made for the benefit of the prime minister’s monopolist friends as the masses are pushed into unemployment and poverty.

“Public assets that belong to the people of India are handed to the prime minister’s billionaire friends. Loans worth Rs 16 lakh crore are waived for these businessmen, while farmers [who] are unable to afford their basic needs commit suicide for a few thousand rupees.

“Prices of basic commodities – petrol, diesel, gas cylinders, food, anything the ordinary citizen needs to manage his life – touch the sky, crushing his livelihood and reducing him to penury.

“Our national debt rises from Rs 55 lakh crore to Rs 205 lakh crore. Our household savings drop drastically, yet, we are fed false figures and we are told to celebrate our booming economy.”

Recalling the humanitarian crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic, Priyanka said: “When a pandemic strikes us, millions of migrant labours are thrown out of our cities on a day’s notice. They are left to walk hundreds of kilometres towards their villages risking death and disease, with no support whatsoever. The whole nation watches scenes that they will never forget.”

Referring to electoral bonds, she said, “In this new nation, corruption is institutionalised. The government coerces, harasses and raids companies to extort donations from them.

“One company’s valuation is lower than the amount it donates to the ruling party, others have cases opened against them before they make hefty donations and suddenly their problem vanishes.

“Many appear to donate in exchange for business deals and contracts; the list is endless.”

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