Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday assured the minority communities that they were not alone but many others like him were fighting to protect their rights.
Interacting with delegations of minority communities on the 65th day of his cross-country Bharat Jodo Yatra in Maharashtra, he said the country was witnessing not mob violence but ”organized murder.” Among others, Shiv Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray joined Gandhi in the footmarch as it reached Maharashtra’s Hingoli district.
“No mob lynching is happening, what is happening (in the country) is organized murder,” a Congress release quoted Gandhi as saying while interacting with delegations from minority communities. He condemned extremism on all sides, he said.
”It is not only Muslims but also Dalits, tribals and women who are being attacked, and the way out of this situation is to get rid of fear because fear is only in the mind,” Gandhi said.
Minority communities should realize that they are not alone but there are many people like him who will protect their rights, the Congress release quoted him as saying. Gandhi also met a group of lawyers and former judges who said that the Constitution is under threat today as ”judicial institutions are being threatened like never before.” “We have undertaken the initiative of Bharat Jodo Yatra because there is nowhere today that we can raise your issues,” Gandhi told them, as per the release.
”We can’t rely on judiciary to protect the Constitution and its values because it has been captured,” the release quoted him as stating.
Aaditya Thackeray said he joined Gandhi despite ideological differences as democracy and the Constitution are in peril in the country.
”An attempt to crush the Constitution and democracy is going on in our state and also in the country. Against this, we have come on the road. And it is a good sign for our democracy,” he said.
Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thckeray) and Congress, along with the Nationalist Congress Party, are part of the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance in Maharashtra.
On Thursday, NCP leaders Supriya Sule and Jayant Patil had participated in the Yatra.
Gandhi and other leaders on Friday also paid floral tributes to P Ganesan, a participant from Tamil Nadu who died in a road accident on Thursday.
The Yatra concluded at Kalamnuri on Friday as it entered Hingoli district crossing its half-way mark. Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge on Friday gifted a laptop to Sarvesh Hatne, the schoolboy from Nanded, in Gandhi’s presence. Hatne had met Gandhi a day before and told him that he wanted to become a software engineer but hadn’t seen a computer yet.
The Yatra, the Congress’s mass contact initiative, will cover a distance of 382 km across five districts of Maharashtra before entering Madhya Pradesh on November 20.