Rahul Gandhi Accuses Modi of 'Abetting' Gujarat Riots
January 28, 2014 3:38 PM EST
Rahul Gandhi attacked the chief opponent of his embattled Congress party on Monday by accusing his regional government of 'abetting' religious riots in 2002.
Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi speaks during the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting in New Delhi January 17, 2014.
Gandhi's charge injected a tense new element into a general election campaign that has so far focused mainly on the economy and corruption. Indians are due to vote by May in what many see as a direct contest between Gandhi and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi.
Modi's record as chief minister of the state of Gujarat has been overshadowed by the riots 12 years ago in which Hindu mobs killed at least 1,000 people, most of them Muslims. Rights groups and political rivals have long alleged he allowed or actively encouraged the attacks. Modi has always denied this, and a Supreme Court inquiry found no evidence to prosecute him.
"The government in Gujarat was actually abetting and pushing the riots further," Gandhi told Times Now television in a rare interview, adding that Modi was responsible because he was chief minister of Gujarat at the time.
"The government in Gujarat was allowing the riots to happen," Gandhi said.
Gandhi, 43, a son of India's most famous political dynasty, was nominated this month to head the Congress party's election campaign. A once-booming economy has slowed sharply, while a series of corruption scandals involving Congress have boosted both Modi and a new anti-graft party.
The majority of India's 1.25 billion people are Hindus but around 13 percent are Muslims. Gandhi warned earlier this month of an opposition trying to split India on religious lines.
In his interview, he accused Modi of running his Bharatiya Janata Party like a one-man show, relying on his charisma rather than any particular policies.
"The BJP believes in concentration of power in the hands of one person. I fundamentally disagree with that. I believe in democracy, I believe in opening up the system," Gandhi said.
Rahul's father, grandmother and great-grandfather were all prime ministers in post-independence India, but critics deride him as a political lightweight who depends on his family name for power and has barely registered his presence in parliament despite being a member for the last decade.
Until now he has struggled to show he can follow in his family's footsteps as a statesman and orator who can win over a new generation of voters.
During the interview, which lasted more than an hour, Gandhi underscored the achievements of the Congress party in office, and focused his message on empowering women, making institutions more transparent, and protecting the poor. He said he wanted to turn India into a manufacturing powerhouse like China.
Most Popular Slideshows
- Taylor Swift Named Forbes' Second Highest Paid Country Musician [PHOTOS]
- Forever Lost: Indescribable Anguish for Malaysia Airlines MH17 Families, Remains of Some Victims May Never Be Found (PHOTOS)
- Lunch with the Gods: Pope Francis Eats with Vatican Workers in Cafeteria
- Celebrities Suffering From Lupus: Facts About the Disease
Join the Conversation
- ACT Party's Demand to Re Consider Maoris Privileges Evokes Reprimand
- Opinion Poll in New Zealand Shows National Party Far Ahead in Popular Support
- “Women should not laugh in public” - Turkish Deputy PM says
- Iran Leader Asks Muslims to Supply Arms to Palestine, Calls Israel ‘Rapacious Wolf’
- Canada Claims Good Progress in EU Trade Pact Despite Germany’s Defiant Postures
- These 2 Questions Reveal if You Unwittingly Abuse Alcohol
- Jennifer Lopez and Her Wild 45th Birthday Party: How JLo’s Life-Size Birthday Cake from SamiCakes Boutique Was Made
- Blake Griffin’s Back Injury Is the Reason for His Withdrawal from Team U.S.A.
- Supernatural Season 10 Spoilers: Metatron Capable of Saving Castiel's Fading Grace
- Anderson Silva To Test the Octagon Anew After Freak Leg Injury, To Fight Nick Diaz in 2015