Nava Raipur: Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the Congress should be absolutely clear in its ideological stance in favour of an inclusive India and pointed out that party could have been more vocal on issues such as the Bilkis Bano outrage and murder in the name of cow vigilantism.
Addressing the 85th plenary session of the party here, the former Union minister said the Congress should stand up for its foundational principles.
“We should be absolutely clear in our ideological stance in favour of inclusive India. The tendency to downplay some positions or avoid taking a stand on some issues in order not to alienate what we assume to be the sentiments of the majority only plays into the BJP’s hands,” Tharoor said.
“We must have the courage of our convictions. We could have been more vocal on the Bilkis Bano outrage, attacks on Christian churches, murder in the name of cow vigilantism, bulldozer demolition of Muslim homes and similar issues,” he said.
These are Indian citizens who look to the party for support, Tharoor added.
Last year in August, all 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment in the 2002 post-Godhra Bilkis Bano gang rape case walked out of the Godhra sub-jail after the Gujarat government allowed their release under its remission policy, triggering outrage from various sections, including the Congress. He asserted that India belongs to all and if the party does not speak up in such cases, it is only surrendering its core responsibility of standing up for India’s diversity and pluralism which should be central to the Congress core message.
He said every effort must be made to strengthen the secular foundations of the country.
“The fact is that India’s future is bright as long as the Congress fights the good fight,” Tharoor said.
He also hailed the Bharat Jodo Yatra, saying it has revived the confidence of the party cadre.
“From here let us send out a message of Congress jodo,” Tharoor said.
Speaking on the economic resolution passed on the second day of the three-day plenary, Tharoor said it should outline the elements of a progressive economic agenda that addresses head-on the challenge of unacceptable economic inequality.
“We want economic growth but we must ensure that the fruits of that growth reach the poor and the marginalised. India will not shine until it shines for all,” he stressed.
The former minister of state for external affairs and the convenor of the party’s sub-group on foreign affairs for the plenary also said policy has long been seen as an are of national consensus.
“There was no Congress foreign policy or BJP foreign policy only Indian foreign policy and Indian national interest. This tradition has sadly been undermined by the (Narendra) Modi government,” Tharoor said.
Tharoor also criticised the government, saying it refuses to take the nation into confidence on vital foreign policy issues, including what is happening on the LAC with China.
“It is shocking to hear our foreign minister imply that China is too rich to stand up to. We must demand that Parliament be taken into confidence, that the nation be told what is our thinking about our vital foreign policy interests,” he said.
Foreign policy must again return to being a consensual national endeavour with bipartisan agreement and support, he asserted.