Rajiv had majority but didn’t use it to crush dissent: Sonia Gandhi

Congress president Sonia Gandhi at an event to mark the 75th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in New Delhi on Thursday. (Express photo by Anil Sharma)

Addressing Congress leaders and workers for the first time since her appointment as Congress president again, Sonia Gandhi on Thursday said the party faces formidable challenges but it must continue its ideological struggle against forces of pisiveness .

Electoral ups and downs are inevitable. The challenges that our party confronts today are formidable but what we must continue is our ideological struggle against the forces of pisiveness, the forces that are out to change the very nature of our society, the very idea of India that is enshrined in our Constitution, she said at an event to mark the 75th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Recalling his contribution to nation-building, she said, Rajiv took the first steps for the liberalisation and globalisation of the Indian economy, but he was also mindful that if India were to acquire a special place on the world stage then it should be self-reliant. And then you have do it through your deeds and conduct and not by displaying your arrogance and sloganeering.

Sonia said that Rajiv won an unprecedented majority in 1984, but he did not utilise that mandate to create an atmosphere of fear and to threaten or bully people, erode the independence of institutions, crush dissent and pergent views and not to jeopardise democratic traditions and lifestyle .

She added, Today there are those who are busy inventing a new past for us. Rajiv Gandhi was engaged in inventing and preparing for a new future. To him, the past had to be understood in all its complexities to build pride, not stoke prejudice, to strengthen social harmony, not fuel antagonism and polarise our society, a society whose heritage has been enriched by multiple streams of faiths, beliefs and culture.

She said he was accused of being elitist and not understanding the problems of rural India. His political adversaries accused him of being out of touch with reality with his fixation for computers. Yet it is this magnificent obsession with technology and modernity that has made millions of youth in our country ready to tackle the challenges of the digital era. I believe that his strategic vision laid the foundations for the prosperity of our country in the coming centuries, she said.