News / Asia

India's Sonia Gandhi Takes to TV to Appeal for Stop of ‘Divisive’ BJP

India's ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, right addresses the media as Vice President Rahul Gandhi smiles in New Delhi, Dec. 8, 2013.
India's ruling Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, right addresses the media as Vice President Rahul Gandhi smiles in New Delhi, Dec. 8, 2013.
Reuters
— Sonia Gandhi, president of India's ruling Congress party, has issued a rare direct appeal to the nation not to return an opposition she said was motivated by “hatred and falsehood” in the country's general election.
 
The three-minute TV address was aired at prime time on Hindi-language channels just as an opinion poll showed for the first time that an alliance led by the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) could win an outright majority.
 
“Their vision, clouded with hatred and falsehood, their ideology, divisive and autocratic, will drive us to... ruination,” the Italian-born widow of 1980s prime minister Rajiv Gandhi said in the clip broadcast on Monday night.
 
Gandhi, 67, has taken center stage in a bid to avert what polls predict will be the worst-ever election defeat for Congress, after a weak campaign led by her son and political heir apparent, Rahul.
 
The BJP dismissed the address as “a farewell speech given in desperation,” driving home an advantage it has reaped from recent accounts by former government insiders that Sonia Gandhi had kept Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a tight leash.
 
“She wants to give power to the people but did not give power to the prime minister,” Prakash Javadekar, the BJP's national spokesman, told Reuters.
 
Heart and soul
 
Sitting in a book-lined study and wearing a dark red Sari, Sonia Gandhi did not mention the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, by name.
 
But her comments clearly targeted his brand of Hindu nationalism that she believes poses a threat to social peace in India's diverse society of 1.2 billion, and at a BJP campaign focused on Modi that critics say smacks of a personality cult.
 
“It is this, the very heart and soul of India, that we are fighting to protect in this election, from those who seek to change it, and to divide us,” said Gandhi. “They want to impose uniformity. They say: 'Just believe in me.’”
 
Modi, 63, is campaigning as a no-nonsense administrator who has fought corruption and nurtured investment during more than a decade as chief minister of the western state of Gujarat, but questions persist over an eruption of sectarian bloodshed in Gujarat in 2002 in which more than 1,000 were killed, mostly Muslims. Modi has denied accusations that he failed to halt the riots, and a Supreme Court inquiry found that he had no case to answer.
 
A senior Modi aide has, however, been banned from campaigning by the election authorities for statements directed at minority Muslims in Uttar Pradesh that promoted “hatred and ill-will.” The northern state, India's most populous, is a must-win territory for any party staking a claim on power.
 
India's five-week general election, which kicked off on April 7, has seen a high turnout so far in what some analysts say is evidence of a “Modi wave” that could propel the BJP to power for the first time in a decade.
 
The latest opinion poll, for private news channel NDTV, showed the BJP and its allies winning 275 parliamentary seats, enough for a three-seat majority. That was an increase of 16 seats from the last NDTV poll just over a week ago.
 
The biggest round of voting comes on Thursday, with 122 seats being contested in regions in the north, including Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka in the south and Rajasthan in the northwest. Voting ends on May 12, with results due on May 16.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid