Intolerance, polarisation can damage our polity, says ex-PM

Modi, Cong leaders pay tribute to Rajiv Gandhi on his 75th birth anniv

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 20

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today called for reflection on trends of intolerance, polarisation and violent crimes being witnessed in the country as the Congress marked the 75th birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Describing Rajiv Gandhi as a “true visionary”, Singh said the late leader’s ideals of secularism and tolerance must be remembered today as much as his contribution to nation building.

“The values Rajiv ji lived by were essentially the values that define our nationhood — a broad secular outlook, the spirit of tolerance, commitment to communal harmony and empathy to others. Our homage to Rajiv ji should not only be a remembrance of his extraordinary personality and contribution to nation building. It should also be marked by a reaffirmation of our commitment to abide by these very values,” Singh said at an event organised by the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation.

“Another cause for solemn reflection today is some disturbing trends that our country has been witnessing over the past few years. These unpleasant trends of growing intolerance, communal polarisation, growing incidence of violent crimes propelled by hatred of certain groups and of mobs taking the law in their own hands can only damage our polity,” he added.

The former PM said trends of violence and intolerance were “repugnant to the promotion of peace, national integration and communal harmony and all of us need to reflect on how we can contribute to arresting these trends”.

“We must continue our journey on the path shown by Rajiv ji by imbibing his words. He said nothing is more important than the unity and integrity of our nation; that India is indivisible; that secularism is the bedrock of our nationhood; and that it implies more than tolerance, involves an active effort for harmony; that no religion preaches hatred and intolerance and vested interests, both external and internal, are inciting and exploiting communal passions and violence to divide India,” Manmohan Singh added quoting Rajiv Gandhi.

Earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former President Pranab Mukherjee, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Congress president Sonia Gandhi paid tributes to the late PM.

Sonia and her children — Rahul and Priyanka — led the prayers at Rajiv Gandhi’s memorial “Veer Bhumi”, where former Haryana CM Bhupinder Singh Hooda also went to pay tributes as did veterans Congress leaders Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad.

Later, Sonia and Rahul gave vehicles to differently abled at Jawahar Bhawan where the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation marked the celebrations with an exhibition titled “Memories and Archives of Rajiv Gandhi”.

"Rajiv Gandhi ji was a patriot and a visionary, whose far-sighted policies helped build India. To me, he was a loving father who taught me never to hate."  Rahul Gandhi

"From my father, I learned how to listen to people’s stories and find a place in my heart for them no matter how contrary to mine they might be" Priyanka Gandhi

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