New Delhi, Nov 13 (IANS) Hitting out at the ruling BJP for undermining the legacy of first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday called upon people to fight to safeguard countrys democracy.
Addressing the launch of Congress MP Shashi Tharoor’s new edition of his 2003 book ‘Nehru: The Invention of India’, Gandhi said Nehru’s core values of democratic institution building, secularism, socialist economics and foreign policy of nonalignment was being challenged by the ruling dispensation.
“Nehru’s precious legacy is being undermined daily by those who rule us today. They express disdain and contempt for Nehru for all that he did to build the India that they are bent upon changing for the worse.
“Today, we must honour Nehru by fighting with determination to safeguard our democracy against those who are undermining it,” she said.
Hailing Nehru for consolidating democracy, Gandhi, quoting Tharoor, said there were four pillars of “Nehruvianism”– democratic institution building, staunch pan-Indian secularism, socialist economics and foreign policy of nonalignment.
“These values were integral to adhesion of Indianess that is fundamentally being challenged today, but which remain at the core of out time-tested beliefs,” she said.
Observing that it was Nehru who instilled the democratic culture in India, Gandhi said his respect for Parliament, regard for the independence of the judiciary, courtesy to those of different political convictions, commitment to free elections, faith in a free press and his deference to institutions over individuals have all left a precious legacy.
Talking about secularism, Gandhi said that Nehru’s conviction was that India belonged to all its people and that the majority community has a special obligation to protect the rights and promote of well-being of Indian minorities.
“At the core of his socialism was the conviction that in a land of extreme poverty and inequality, the objective of government policy must be welfare of the poorest, most deprived and most marginalised of its people,” said Gandhi.
She also said that Nehru strived to prevent partition and never accepted the logic that since Pakistan ostensibly being created for Indian Muslims, what remained was a state for Hindus.
Gandhi also said it was fashionable to decry Nehruvian socialism today, but the critics don’t take into account the circumstances of the early years of independence when massive infrastructure needed to be built up and the private sector lagged the ability to invest on a large scale.