Attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi over winning full majority in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi Thursday said former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, too, had won a full majority in the 1984 Lok Sabha elections but he "never used the powers to create an atmosphere of fear or destroy the freedom and liberty of the people".
Addressing a gathering of party leaders and workers on the occasion of Rajiv Gandhi's 75th birth anniversary, Sonia Gandhi said Rajiv never used his power to put the principles of democracy in danger.
Without naming PM Narendra Modi or the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the Centre, Sonia Gandhi said, "Rajiv Gandhi came to power in 1984 but he never used powers to create an atmosphere of fear or to destroy the freedom & liberty of the people. He never used his power to put the principles of democracy in danger."
Sonia Gandhi said that the Congress party needs to stand up and confront "those who are determined to destroy those values". She said that the party must continue its struggle against the "forces of divisiveness and those who want to change the idea of India".
As prime minister, Sonia Gandhi said, Rajiv Gandhi gave the message that unity can be maintained by celebrating India's diversity. The Congress interim president also said that no-one can ever do what Rajiv Gandhi did when he was a prime minister.
Sonia Gandhi said the former prime minister's 75th birth anniversary is not a ritual being marked by the Congress, but an occasion to reaffirm its resolve to uphold the values that inspired him.
"Rajiv Gandhi's birth anniversary is an occasion to resolve to stand up and confront forces determined to destroy the values that inspired him," she said. Sonia Gandhi also asserted that the challenges that the Congress is facing are formidable, but "it must continue with its ideological struggle against divisive forces".
Reacting to Sonia Gandhi's attack on PM Modi, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MLA Manjinder S Sirsa said that the Congress interim president was "lying shamelessly".
Taking to Twitter, Sirsa said, "She says Rajiv Gandhi never created an environment of fear. That same Rajiv Gandhi who with his Congress goons caused 8,000 innocent Sikhs to be burnt alive on roads!! That same Rajiv Gandhi who said 'jab ek bada ped girta hai toh dharti hilti hai'."
In this video: Sonia Gandhi appointed interim president of Congress party