New Delhi/UNI: Accusing the BJP of doing 'divisive' politics, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has said the saffron party is not "inclusive" as they don't embrace everyone, and added that it is "damaging" the country.
"The BJP generates a certain amount of hatred in the society. They 'polarise' the society. They are not inclusive as they don't embrace everybody. They 'divide' the society," he said, in response to a volley of questions during his interaction with the media at the National Press Club in Washington DC in US, on Thursday.
The former Congress president, who is on a six-day tour to the US, further said, "In my view it is 'damaging' the country. India has always had a tradition of conversation and openness. All our great leaders, spiritual and political, like Mahatma Gandhi and Buddha promoted harmony, peace and conversation. It is in our culture and history to bring people together and have dialogue."
"There is a difference in ideology between us and the BJP. We feel India should be allowed to express itself. We are very serious about protecting certain values. All people should have equal space and equal expression. These are things for us which are non-negotiable. We fight for them and pay the price," he added.
On Opposition unity, Rahul said, "The Opposition is 'united'. It is getting more and more united. We are having conversations with all the Opposition (parties). I am confident that will happen."
"Congress will do very well in the next election. It will surprise the people. There is a hidden 'undercurrent' building (against the ruling BJP)."
"I am not entirely convinced about this idea that (Narendra) Modi is going to win the 2024 (Lok Sabha) elections. It is not as simple as people make out. A united Opposition will defeat the BJP (in 2024)," he said.
Recalling his 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', Rahul said, "There is a definite capture of institutions and the press in India. I walked across India, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, and spoke directly to millions of Indian people. They didn't seem happy to me. There were serious issues with rising unemployment and inflation. There was angst among the people."
The Yatra-led by the former party president which had started from Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari in September last year, traversed through several states including Karnataka and concluded in Jammu and Kashmir in January. The party says it was one of its "most decisive mass contact programmes".
Referring to his disqualification from Lok Sabha as a member, Rahul said, " I am the first person in Indian history since 1947 to be given the highest punishment for defamation. Nobody has been given the maximum sentence on the first offence."
In March, the Congress leader was convicted in a defamation case by a court in Gujarat for his "all thieves have Modi surname" remarks at a rally in Karnataka’s Kolar in 2019.
"My disqualification happened right after my speech in Parliament about Adani. This should explain what is going on in India," he said, recalling his speech in the Lok Sabha.
Rahul has been accusing Prime Minister Narendra Modi of "favouring a few industrialists including billionaire businessman Gautam Adani".
The Hindenburg Research Report on Adani Group alleged that it had engaged in stock manipulation and accounting fraud schemes over the course of decades. The Congress has been spearheading the Opposition, demanding a Joint Parliamentary Committee probe into the Adani issue.
On the India-China border issue, Rahul said, "China has occupied our territory. It's an accepted fact. They have occupied 1,500 sq km of land, and it is absolutely 'unacceptable'. However, PM Modi seems to believe otherwise. Maybe he knows something we don't know."
Earlier, his party in a statement had said, “PM Modi’s 'clean chit’ to China in 2020 proved very dangerous for us. His silence on the 1,500 sq km of Indian territory controlled by China since 2020 speaks of his complete failure on the national security front.”