Congress condemns, BJP backs Dwivedi’s remarks on Modi

New Delhi: The Congress Thursday slammed senior party leader Janardan Dwivedi’s remarks allegedly linking “Indianness” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls and indicated possible action against him.

The apparent discomfiture of the Congress over Dwivedi’s purported remarks led the BJP to rub it in on its main rival with union minister Nirmala Sitharaman describing the Congress leader’s comments as “absolutely right”.

She said the Congress was facing an “internal rift” and it “does not know what has hit them”.

The Congress convened a special press meet in the afternoon to convey its deep unhappiness with Dwivedi’s remarks which have been widely noted in the political circles.

Dwivedi, a party general secretary, later in the day clarified that he did not praise Modi and also added that he did not need any lessons to understand “Indianness”.

Congress general secretary Ajay Maken, who heads the party’s communications department, told the media that “the party strongly condemned the comparison of Modi with Indianness”.

Maken said the Congress follows principles of Mahatama Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and Kabir on “Indianness” and Modi is not even close to it.

Saying that ideological stand of the Congress on “Indianness” was far away from “what Dwivedi tried to define yesterday (Wednesday)”, Maken said “Indianness” meant keeping all people united.

“Under Modi’s seven-month rule, there have been incidents of riots in Trilokpuri and churches are being burnt, women are being asked to produce more children, term like ‘Ramzada’ is being used,” he said, asking if this was the “Indianness” which Dwivedi was talking about.

On disciplinary action against Dwivedi, Maken said the central leadership will decide on the issue soon.

Dwivedi has been quoted as saying that Modi and the BJP has been “successful in convincing people that from a social point of view they are closer to Indian citizens”.

He also reportedly said in a way BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls was a “victory of Indianness”.

Dwivedi, who is viewed to be ideologically rooted in the Congress ethos and has conveyed official viewpoint of the party after important meetings, refuted having actually praised Modi.

“It’s senseless. I pity the understanding of the people who said that I praised Modi,” he said.

“Who said that Modi was a symbol of ‘Indianness’? It’s the Congress that has been the symbol of ‘Indianness’,” a visibly miffed Dwivedi said.

“What I meant was Modi and the BJP have been successful in making people believe that they are close to them and they represent the people,” he said.

Expressing surprise over “how people could go wrong”, Dwivedi said the Congress could not do what the BJP and its leaders like Modi succeeded in doing.

“They (BJP and Modi) made people believe that they were with them, the Congress could not do it and that was our failure,” Dwivedi said.

He said “people, including you, me and everybody” have limitations in understanding things and some may have “projected” it in their own way. “That’s why the controversy emerged.”

“I know what Indianness is all about… Look at my first book, whom I made symbol of Indianness there. I don’t need lessons to understand Indianness… I understand what it is,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sitharaman told the media that Dwivedi’s “comment calling Narendra Modi and BJP’s win a triumph of Indianness is the truth, to some a Freudian slip which they are forcing the senior leader to retract from”.

She said she agreed with a Congress spokesperson “who said Congress view about Indianness was completely opposite to that of Janardan Dwivedi”.

“The Congress believes in dynasty politics,” she said.

Sitharaman said Modi had risen in the party ranks through hard work and several leaders in the BJP are such who have come on “merit”.

“Therefore, it is only natural that they manifest Indianess and remain close to people,” she said.

She said popularity graph of Modi was on the rise as he remains close to people.