On the second and last day of Nehru International Conference, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said efforts were on to remove Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy from the country and there was a need to thwart such attempts urgently.
Speaking at the Nehru International Conference, organised by the Indian National Congress to commemorate Jawaharlal Nehru’s 125th Birth Anniversary, Gandhi said: “Nehru is an ancient idea but he is also a part of living India. His ideas and politics are very much present today.”
Some people were trying to “remove his (Nehru) legacy from the country he so dearly cherished”, Gandhi added without naming anyone.
The Gandhi scion said it was important that the people of the country preserved “this peaceful India, Nehru’s India, an India which is secular and tolerant”.
“Today this legacy, that has denied no man or woman their voice, and that we have fought to preserve for close to 70 years is more important than ever before,” said Gandhi.
The congress vice president said Nehru was a “man of ideas but not an ideologue” and he “never forced his ideas on anyone”.
“India is a country where democratic principles are cherished deeply. Nehru developed and protected these democratic ideals. That is why today India is a nation where one-sixth of humanity lives in peace,” he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not been invited to the two-day meet, raising some eyebrows in the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The event held by Congress to resurrect Nehru’s legacy at a trying time for the party saw the presence of leaders from many parties on Monday.
West Bengal Chief Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee, Communist Party of India-Marxist leaders Prakash Karat and Sitaram Yechury and Janata Dal-United chief Sharad Yadav were among those present.
Many leaders of parties of undivided Janata Dal were there, but no senior Samajwadi Party leader was present.
Foreign leaders present included former Afghan president Hamid Karzai, former Ghana president John Kufuor, Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, former Nepal Prime Minister Madhav Nepal and former Egyptian foreign minister Amr Moussa.
Speaking on the first day of the conference, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said the values promoted by India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru continue to remain relevant, and secularism was a compelling need without which there could be no India.
She further made veiled attacks on the BJP, saying Nehru’s life and work had been “drowned out by misinterpretation and distortion in recent years”.
The theme of the two-day conference is “Nehru’s world view and his Legacy – Democracy, Inclusion and Empowerment”.