Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the anti-Sikh riots in the aftermath of Indira Gandhi’s assassination were like a “dagger that pierced through India’s chest.”
Speaking at the “Run for Unity” to mark Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary – seen as the BJP government’s attempt to recast a day traditionally marked as Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary – PM Modi said, “Our own people were murdered, the attack was not on a particular community but on the entire nation. It was like a dagger pierced through India’s chest.”
Over 3,000 Sikhs were killed after then prime minister Indira Gandhi was shot dead by her own Sikh bodyguards at her home in Delhi. The killing was linked to Mrs Gandhi’s decision to sanction “Operation Bluestar”, or the storming of the Golden Temple to flush out Sikh militants hiding there.
Allegations that the Congress tried to protect its top leaders accused of leading mobs against Sikhs have been a recurring theme in the BJP’s campaigns against the UPA.
“It is unfortunate that on the birth anniversary of the man who dedicated his life in uniting the country, a tragic incident took place 30 years ago that shook the country and left it deeply scarred,” PM Modi said.
In what many in the Congress see as an “insult”, there was no one from the central government at Indira Gandhi’s memorial Shakti Sthal today for a tribute organized by Sonia Gandhi, her daughter-in-law and Congress president.
PM Modi had tweeted his tribute in the morning, saying, “I join my fellow countrymen & women in remembering former PM Smt. Indira Gandhi on her Punya Tithi (death anniversary).”
President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari were the only dignitaries to join the homage for Indira Gandhi, besides Congress leaders including Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.
Congress leaders say it is the first time that Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary was marked without any state patronage.
As PM Narendra Modi Leads ‘Run For Unity’, Government Absent at Indira Gandhi’s Memorial
As Prime Minister Narendra Modi today brisk-walked with a crowd in Delhi for the “Run for Unity” in memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, his government stayed away from Indira Gandhi’s memorial.
For the first time, no one from the central government was present to mark the death anniversary of the former prime minister, who was assassinated on this day 30 years ago by her Sikh bodyguards.
Before flagging off celebrations for Sardar Patel’s 139th birth anniversary, PM Modi tweeted this morning, “I join my fellow countrymen & women in remembering former PM Smt. Indira Gandhi on her Punya Tithi (death anniversary).”
I join my fellow countrymen & women in remembering former PM Smt. Indira Gandhi on her Punya Tithi.
Away from the bustle of the “Run for Unity” organized in various cities, a low-key tribute was held at Shakti Sthal, the memorial of Indira Gandhi, by her daughter-in-law and Congress president Sonia Gandhi. President Pranab Mukherjee and Vice President Hamid Ansari were the only dignitaries present, besides Congress leaders including former prime minister Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi.
For the first time ever, state patronage was absent in Indira Gandhi’s death anniversary, say Congress leaders who also point out that it was Sonia Gandhi who had written to Manmohan Singh in 2012 suggesting that government should spend far less for the birth and death anniversaries of national leaders.
But others in the Congress say the Modi government has tried to erase Indira Gandhi’s contribution to India’s history. “Indira Gandhi lived and died for the nation, it is the responsibility of every Govt to honour the sacrifice,” said the party’s Manish Tewari.
PM Modi today said “history and legacy should not be dragged into ideological debate”, but the message was lost in political sparring.
Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said he “always felt history was unkind to Sardar Patel” – a remark that could needle the Congress, which accuses PM Modi and his BJP of trying to appropriate the legacy of one of their biggest icons. Sardar Patel, a lifelong Congressman, was India’s first home minister.
In a barb at the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh or RSS, Congress leader Digvijaya Singh tweeted, “We pay Homage to Sardar Vallabh Bhai who united India and banned RSS for inciting Communal Violence which led to assassination of Gandhiji.”